Last Monday, August 11th, I woke up to the news that the great comedian and all around lovable guy Robin Williams had died. First I read some posts on Facebook about it, but I did not take it seriously since Facebook is notorious for its hoaxes. As soon as I went down from my room, I turned the TV on and tuned into some of the biggest news channels, from CNN, BBC, Fox and even Al Jazeera. Yes, it was confirmed that one of the funniest guys on earth apparently committed suicide. I was in total shock. I am not into celebrities. I don’t follow any of them, but I am more fascinated with comedians and I like comedy movies and sitcoms. As far as a I remember, Robin William’s early sitcom “Mork and Mindy” was the first sitcom that I liked as a kid. Even though I did not understand most of the situations and jokes back then, I liked his physical comedy. His energy as a comedian captivated my young mind. And who could ever forget his egg-shaped space ship, his red space suit, silver boots, silver gloves and his alien greeting “nanoo nanoo”. Since then I became a fan of Mr. Williams. Good Morning Vietnam, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, Awakenings, Patch Adams, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, The Birdcage, One Hour Photo are some of the most memorable movies that I’ve seen. His guest appearance on the American improv show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” was hilarious. His appearance on Louis C.K.’s sitcom was like passing a torch from one great comedian to another. His features on every talk show specifically on Letterman, Leno and O’Brien were all delights. As Conan O’ Brien said, Robin Williams is the best talk show guest ever.
Wherever he goes, he is like a firecracker going off. A dynamite of man where his comedic energy is waiting to be lit and once set, it will just explode, leave a big crater of laughter and happiness for all the people around him. Mr. Williams is a very versatile actor. He is a brilliant comedian who is able to adapt to any situation and come up with a quick joke and make an effective comeback anytime. He is also an effective, serious actor that can really bring tears out of men. Awakening with Robert De Niro and Good Will Hunting were not chick flicks, but straight on dramas that made me shed tears. I believe that all comedians are more effective as drama actors than the actual drama actors. And there may be also some truth that most comedians are tormented individuals.
The Report Of His Death
I waited for 2 more days to get the official report that would follow the breaking news of William’s death. According to the police report, he was found by his personal assistant at 11:45 am fully clothed and in a seating position, unresponsive and not breathing. He was secured by a belt around his neck with the end of the belt wedged between the door frame and the closet door. There were also cut marks on his wrist and a pocket knife was found near the body. Toxicology test will take several weeks to show if Williams was on drugs or alcohol upon his death. Williams’ media rep also said that the actor was battling severe depression. Mr Williams went to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction in the past. He also went through heart surgery a few years ago, which some experts say may have added to his depression.
It really made me think about how a very talented and generous individual who is loved, respected by many and an overall nice guy would carry such a heavy burden. It is really sad that such a nice and funny guy was plagued by an extreme depression that would eventually end his life.
What Is Depression?
According to the World Health Organization, there are over 350 million people around the world suffering from depression. In Australia, About 1 million or 1 in 6 adults are afflicted with depression. In the US, according to the report of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 9% of Americans are suffering from some form of minor depression while 3.4% suffer from major depression. This means about 25 million Americans will have an experience with depression, but only half of them will receive treatment. Without any treatment, the severity and frequency of the symptoms will increase over time.
Major depression can be described as a mood state that goes far beyond temporarily feeling sad or down. It is a very serious mental illness that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings, mood and physical health. Some individuals may only have one episode of depression in their lifetime and some will have recurring episodes. Some may have depression episodes in a year, while others may have ongoing symptoms. If left untreated, the episodes may last for a few months to many years. Major depression or clinical depression or unipolar mood disorder can lead to serious impairment of a person’s daily function and at worst, will lead to suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Researchers and experts stated that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US and more than half of people who have committed suicide are suffering from depression. The World Health Organization has stated that by 2020, depression will be the 2nd leading cause to the global burden of disease. Fortunately, clinical depression can be treated. The availability of effective medications and treatments and a better understanding of the symptoms and effects of depression can help in early detection, the right diagnosis and the decision in seeking medical treatment. Treatments can include psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two. It is essential that the person suffering from depression and the people close to them should be actively involved in addressing the situation. It is also important the depressed individual should recognize their disorder for an effective diagnosis and treatment.
Knowing The Symptoms and Signs Of Depression
Depression symptoms vary from person to person, but there are common signs that you can look out for if a friend or a family member suddenly becomes isolated. You have to remember that the symptoms can be part of everyday life’s normal lows, but the more signs, the stronger they are and the longer they last, it is likely that person is suffering from depression. If the symptoms are disabling and overwhelming, then is time to seek professional help. Signs may include:
- Sleep changes
- Feelings of helplessness
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Weight changes
- Appetite changes
- Easily irritated
- Loss of energy
- Reckless behavior
- Problems concentrating
- Unexplained pains in the body
Major depression can lead to becoming suicidal, the hopelessness and deep despair along with depression can make the thought of suicide an escape from the pain and extreme sadness the person is feeling. Thoughts of dying or death are also symptoms of extreme depression so you have to take it seriously. For many people who are suffering from depression and contemplating suicide, the signs below are a cry for help. Signs can include:
- Getting affairs in order; tying any loose ends or giving away any prized possessions
- Visiting or calling close friends and families to say goodbye
- Talking of doing harm to one’s self or talking about suicide
- Preoccupation with dying
- Acting recklessly as if having a death wish
- Sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting happy or calm
Understanding And Helping Someone Suffering From Depression
You can help a friend or a loved one battle depression by understanding what it is. Learn how to reach out and talk about the condition with your friend or loved one. Below are some basic truths that will help you understand the disease. And by understanding, compassion will come through and treatment for the person will proceed for them to recover. Understand that:
Depression Is A Disease
Depression is a real disease just like cancer, or diabetes. It is a mental disorder that physically manifests. Again, this is a treatable condition. Acknowledge its presence and you will be able to take the next step in healing.
Anyone Can Be Depressed
Famous, popular, rich people and even comedians just like Robin Williams can suffer from depression. Depression spares no one. There is no common face for depression. Nobody is immune.
Depression Signs Are Not Personal
Depression makes it hard for a person to have a deep emotional connection with anyone, even the people closest to them. Most depressed people may say hurtful things and will just burst out in anger. You have to remember that these are the emotional effects of depression. The person does not mean to say things that will hurt anyone on purpose, so don’t take it personally.
Depression Is Not A Fashion Statement
Being depressed is not a fashion statement, as has been seen in the developing “emo kid” culture. There is nothing romantic about an illness that takes away your happiness and self worth.
Everyone Suffering From Depression Deserves Help
When a person is feeling depressed, they also feel that they don’t deserve any help. The most important thing in the world is the connection with people and living a life where anyone can wake up and feel excited about the things that will happen. Everyone has the right to be loved, connect to people and be happy.
It Is Not Easy To Tell If Someone Is Fighting Depression
While someone may seem to act happy or be perfectly talkative, they may be silently suffering from depression. You have to remember that everyone has their own struggles in life and everyone deals with them differently. If someone has talked to you or asked for any kind of help, try your best to reach out. By reaching out to them or just by simply talking to them, you had saved their life, especially if they are contemplating suicide.
Depression does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, it doesn’t matter what your status is, your age, gender, IQ or race. If you suspect that someone is going through depression, acknowledge their condition, understand them, reach out and help them. Professional help is the best thing for the person. If the person feels that no one cares about them or there is too much of a burden to carry it can lead to another suicide statistic, just like what happened to the brilliant, warm and funny man, Robin Williams.