Robin Williams was a canary in the coal mine

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Good morning:

Robin Williams appeared to have everything that a person might desire, but it was not enough.

I have been contemplating suicide on and off for many years, but haven’t pulled the plug, and I have not achieved the material success that he achieved or the admiration of millions of fans.

I remember deriving comfort when I was a child from the comforting realization that I could end my miserable life anytime and be no worse off than I was before I was born.

I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not depressed.

Absence of meaning in a world gone mad greets me everywhere I look.

Yet, I persevere somehow and do not know why.

Robin Williams’s surrender informs me that I am not alone.

NBC News reports today,

The suicide rate among Americans 45 to 64 has jumped more than 30 percent in the last decade, according to the CDC, and it’s possible to slice the data more finely than that. Among white, upper-middle-aged men, the rate has jumped by more than 50 percent, according to the public data. If these men were to create a breakaway territory, it would have the highest suicide rate in the world.


“We absolutely have to start focusing attention on the middle aged,” said Julie Phillips, a sociologist at Rutgers and among the first researchers to notice the rise in Boomer suicides. In a paper she presented last year, she argued that Boomers are “the tip of the iceberg.” They have the highest suicide rate right now, she found. But everyone born after 1945 had a higher suicide rate than expected—and everyone is on pace for a higher rate than the Boomers.

She calls it, “the new epidemiology of suicide.”

Houston, we have a problem.

22 Responses to Robin Williams was a canary in the coal mine

  1. ay2z says:

    Inside The Actor’s Studio, with Robin Williams

    Full Video, an hour and a half.

    “trying to categorize our guest is like trying to catch lightning in a butterfly net.”

    If anyone feels the need for a break from the intensity of recent cases and wants to enjoy an amazing, warm, witty and white humanitarian and performer of ‘legalized insanity’, the introduction and first few minutes make this worth putting on a pot of popcorn and settling in for a good dose of Robin.

    Break from CNN and the serious side, with an adventure into Robin’s world for awhile.

  2. colin black says:


    He did not hang himself an slit his weisys because his career was on the wane.
    Nor did he mind paying 2o millions to suppport those he still loved deeply his Children.
    It was neither finance or lack of work that drove this poor tormented soul to end his life..

    They say aparrt from Doctors Comeadians suffer the highest rate of depression an L E Also.

    Doctors because they constantly deal with greif an informing people they bond with and there relitives bad news.
    Cop decent ones at least also witness misery daily on a personal level.

    And Comeadians Nick Hancock suiside mainc depresive R Petor manic depesive sustance abuse like wise Robin an now his tragic death.

    The reason each an everyone off those whom chose to end there life killed themselfs for .
    Was not finance not love or lack of not because there career parg was not panning out.


    The Real reason an te sadest reason each took there lifes Michel Hutchinces is another classic example .

    Was they all suffered from a despicile desease called depression.
    An unless youve been there you can never understand.

    Ninety 3 percent of suisides leave no suiside notes

    Kurt Cobain.

    All right I pulled the 93 percent out my ass,
    But what Is true is the majority of suside s Dont leave a suiside note an if they do loke Kurt Cobains an Peaches Geldof,

    Whom done Hers via twittwr throu the medium of a photo of Her as a Baby cuddling er Dead Mom.
    And as a very blatant slap in the face to her Father Bob Geldoff
    She commited her suiside in the wee small hours of Monday Morning,

    So his I Dont like Mondays song willl never again enter his ears.

    Anyway the reason so few leave notes at there deaths Is because the depression has sucked every last ounce of spirt life an energy out of them.
    Made them feel so utterly worthless an pointless That they hate them selfs and want to cease to exist.
    When oblivion Is a better option than to carry on breathing.
    When your so fucking utterly disguisted with yourself/existance/fill in the blank.

    Your not exactly in the most productive or creative of moods.
    If its taking you half an hour just to tie a shoelace ,
    Or brush your hair because you keep zoneing out on how utterly pointles life is.

    And you were suposed to be some where two hours ago an anyway going back to bed for three day an lieing in a pitch black room seams a better option .
    Than actualy try to cohabit with other people on any level an where you can lie an try to forget.
    Try not to think because thinking is agony as it always returns to the thoughs of death.

    Thats why depressed people die because of the illness .Just as anorexic people look in the mirror and see a fat person.
    A depresive can have every advantage In the world an yet feel only drtead an misery.
    Depresion can strike anyone of any ilk and every single one of them deserve our compassion.

    And the fact that people have trawled his Daughters twitter acount calling him selfish are disspicable.
    And no jackshit about the disease called clinical depression

    • masonblue says:

      Crane-Station here. Thank you, Colin, we have just read your excellent comment together. As one who has been personally gravely depressed and suicidal (back during the pendency of my legal case) I have often remarked that the depression can get so bad, that even the act of suicide would simply take too much planning and energy. My sincere hope is that Robin Williams did not die in vain, and that his tragic death will be a wake-up call and a call for a change of heart for all of us in the collective. Depression needs to be taken as seriously as any other medical condition, and there should be no stigma and no accusations or laughing when someone seeks help.

      When I sought help on one occasion, the social worker in the local ER told me to go home “and try one of the other methods” because I was “just an actor.” He found someone’s seeking help to be wildly amusing, and he was, in fact, the gatekeeper, at the local hospital. It is this type of twisted, sadistic and unacceptable thinking that needs to change, so that this current epidemic of suicide in America can be addressed appropriately.

      RIP Robin Williams.

      Also, as I was thinking back through time, to the many talented people who have been turned into an industry and who should not have died young, Elvis Presley comes to mind. While not technically a suicide, he was extremely depressed, and my impression is, that he was pushed to the stage at all costs, until he dropped dead.

      • Malisha says:

        OMG, talk about malpractice.

        A friend of mine was suicidal and she was seeing a therapist. She told him she was suicidal and he said, “Don’t worry; most women fail at their suicide attempts.” I told her to ditch him immediately and she did, and she replaced him with a clinical social worker who was rational and non-misogynist and she worked well with him for two years and recovered very nicely!

        I always thought the guy’s license should have been pulled.

        • masonblue says:

          CS here. Although I never pursued anything at that time, my understanding is that he was likely fired. That was a terrible year for me, and on a subsequent admission I was told that he was no longer there.

          It is truly scary to think though,that there must be many more just like him, because we have an American suicide epidemic to show in part, for our fundamentally flawed mental health care system.

          • owl says:

            the “insane asylums” of yesterday, the hidden, “locked wards” of today, and often woefully inadequate medications that mask the darkness of depression and alter reality still deliver poor outcomes. administrators of those treatments are also suspect when they lack compassion.
            indeed, it is an epidemic of suffering that money, pharmaceuticals, and sheer determination can’t stabilize and / or cure. finally, brain research may bring us out of the dark ages sometime soon.

    • owl says:

      suicide is nothing new; it’s interesting that Robin Williams is a catalyst for people to open up by relating to his depression, substance abuse and his genius. i’m unsure why there is shock….so many have taken their lives for so many reasons, often the brightest, most talented and the most sensitive.
      yes, there is compassion in abundance for those who walk this path and teeter on the edge of the brick walk between life and falling off the edge.
      courage, strength and mental health exists at various levels in suffering individuals, with those who grieve, who are ill, and struggle with demons. others can’t go on. no doubt, a strong genetic component predisposes to suicide. the legacy is a sad one for generations that follow. and often one of shame. yes, shame.
      you are born once, and you die only once. interestingly, animals don’t seem to take their own lives.
      still, the longer i live, the less i know.

  3. Two sides to a story says:

    PS – I do think Williams’ suicide will bring more awareness to the astonishing rate of suicide among veterans and the general population.

  4. Pdeadder says:

    I am shocked about your feelings about suicide.
    I am 68 and have felt the same as you all of my life but am so glad you can put it into words.
    Have you ever wondered why or asked for help.?
    I have never told anyone myself but your words have helped in ways you’ll never know.
    I remember one day for about 20 minutes The gloom left and I realized how normal people feel.It was euphoria.
    If you need a refuge you and your wife you are more than welcome to come stay with me as long as you like.
    As my Mother always used to say to me This too shall pass.

    • Happy to have been able to help. Most of the meaning I get out of life comes from helping others and that is why I love teaching.

      Your kind invitation brought tears to my eyes, but we’re working on a plan to one of several destinations that we are considering.

      Thank you for your thoughtful offer.


    • Two sides to a story says:

      I think it’s a common human condition to have to fight negativity and depression each and every day. I’m glad I’m still here, for whatever that’s worth, but am increasingly worried about the state of the world. I also see US as a decaying hellhole and fear for our youth and future generations.

      I do think, like Fred says, it helps to turn your anguish outward to give a hand to others in some way.That’s basically what Robin Williams was able to do for many decades until his own well ran dry.

      I have to work my butt off every day to fight the inertia and sense of hopelessness that threatens to overwhelm me. Life, as Buddha pointed out, is suffering, and we can deal with it only by staying in a state of equanimity, recognizing that we’re basically okay no matter what’s happening in our lives.

      I used to think that there’s some magical formula to being happy and there’s really only the place in which we can accept life as it really is.

      The true nature of our minds is in wisdom and compassion and it’s from that place that we so often saw Robin Williams bringing smiles to people’s faces.

  5. Malisha says:

    Still, I cannot see Robin Williams as a canary in this coal mine. When I watched his routine at Carnegie Hall, I remember thinking there was something GROSSLY GROSSLY wrong. Yet it was one of my favorite routines ever. Second perhaps to John Belushi’s “The Luck of the Irish” on Saturday Night Live.

    It is the dark humor of the concentration camps that runs beneath many of our most talented comedians. The anger Williams felt could have been seen all those years and we who were his fans could feel the jarring notes of it while we were splitting our sides laughing. We’re all still in that concentration camp of our (the larger “our”) making and we cannot really get out but we can survive it (another day, another week, another month).

    Professor, stay with us.

  6. bettykath says:

    “Remember, suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems,” — Robin Williams, in character as Lance Clayton.

    There’s always help available. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

    I spent most of my life depressed. In the middle of an attempt that I aborted, I realized that I didn’t want to die, I just wanted the hurt to stop. That realization prevented me from considering suicide again, but it was years before I stopped having bouts of depression.

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