Robin Williams and the S Word

I can hear you all rolling your eyes and muttering under your breaths “Robin Williams? She barely ever updates, and she wants to talk about a celebrity that died? Haven’t we heard enough of this?”

Why yes, we have heard a great deal about the recent death suicide of Robin Williams in the past weeks. Some would say, we have heard way too much about Robin Williams’ death. Suicide. 

Suicide is a difficult and controversial topic to talk about or even mention in passing, yet suicide is ranked number 10 as the most common leading cause of death in America in 2011 according to the CDC’s website. I’ve noticed that since Robin Williams committed suicide, anybody who talked about it on Facebook never said that word directly. I read posts about how sad it was that Williams had “died,” or that it was just his time to “go.” On the other hand, people talked about his suicide using phrases like he “offed himself.” Furthermore, if you check the CDC’s website, suicide is titled as Intentional Self Harm (suicide). I find it interesting that so many people avoid the word “suicide.” 

Me: After all, it’s just a word.

My Philosophical Brain: Ah, but words have power.

This is very true. Words do have power. We give them the power: to hurt, to heal, to intimidate, to embarrass. We give words power over our lives. The same is true for the word “suicide.”  During my search for statistics about suicide, I stumbled across three definitions.

Definition 1 Merriam-Webster online dictionary:


noun \ˈsü-ə-ˌsīd\

: the act of killing yourself because you do not want to continue living

: a person who commits suicide

: an action that ruins or destroys your career, social position, etc.

Definition 2 The American Psychological Association:

Suicide is the act of killing yourself, most often as a result of depression or other mental illness.

In the United States, suicide accounts for about 2 percent of all deaths. Rates are highest for men over 69, but are increasing alarmingly in young people aged 15 to 24.

Definition 3 Google:

  1. 1.
    the action of killing oneself intentionally.
    “he committed suicide at the age of forty”
    synonyms: self-destruction, taking one’s own life, killing oneself, self-murder

    “was it suicide or murder?”
  1. 1.
    intentionally kill oneself.

As you can see, suicide is extremely negative, and anyone would agree that the death of a person is not something positive. Besides, suicide is taboo in many cultures. I was raised in a Catholic household where suicide was not talked about because the taking of one’s own life was a “sin.” I know many people who believe that same idea. According to the University of Missouri, suicide was considered acceptable in the Graeco-Roman culture centuries ago, but only if the person committing suicide was doing so because they were dishonored. If I am not mistaken, the same happened in Japan, especially during World War II.

So, this leads to my question. How come centuries ago (and only decades ago), was suicide considered somewhat acceptable? Maybe because there was more of an emphasis placed on a person’s honor. Honor was greater than life. If you died with honor than you died a hero.

But now? What about now?

The idea of honor seems to be an archaic ideal, with more importance placed on appearance and intelligence. This may be why committing suicide because you were dishonored isn’t seen as a “good reason.” Furthermore, with leading advancements in the scientific field of both medicine and psychology, it would seem that people would be more open to talking about suicide, or that people wouldn’t commit suicide at all. However, after Robin Williams’ suicide became public, many of the things I read and saw bashed a man who was so depressed that he did kill himself. 

Coward was a name that he was given. 

“Why?” was the question everyone was asking.

People commit suicide all the time due to depression or some other mental illness. I would like to take this moment and make a statement, suicide isn’t cowardly. Like so many other people, Robin Williams was trapped in his own colorless world. He may have suffered years of confinement in his dark dark world, yet to the rest of us, he seemed perfectly happy. You never know how a person truly feels…

Selfish was another name Williams’ was called.

I want to begin by saying that I believe people have the right to whatever opinion they want, but I also have that right to disagree with that opinion. Maybe it’s because I was a psych major, but I don’t find suicide selfish. If someone is struggling so much that they reach their breaking point, then it’s extremely sad. I would never call someone selfish for feeling so depressed that they can’t see how their lives would get better, and they commit suicide. When people say that he didn’t think of his family or how his actions affected so many, I just want to bang my head on the table. I feel like some (not all) people don’t realize that depression can really alter how you perceive your life and how you are affecting others (like maybe he felt that his family would be better off without him [just assuming, he may have felt differently]).

What I find most interesting is how everyone seemed so shaken up by Robin Williams’ death. It is truly amazing that he had such an impact on everyone across several generations. Genie, Mork, Mrs. Doubtfire, Peter Pan. I know all of these characters, so does my younger sisters, my parents, and my grandmother. He has touched all of our lives just by his acting, and it’s terrible that we all realized it afterwards.

Yet we all know the this, don’t we? I mean, the media has beaten this half to death.

Let me know what you think. 

Also I did not mean to offend anyone with this post!

Have a great day lovelies, and if you or someone you know are struggling with depression or thinking of committing suicide please tell someone or contact your local suicide prevention hotline.

The number for the suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-784-2433


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