A large portion of the public response to Robin Williams’ heartbreaking suicide has been bewilderment: how was he depressed? He was so successful. He was so energetic. He had so much to live for.
He was depressed because depression is an illness. Like cancer or heart disease, it doesn’t just go away if you’re beloved or talented or legendary. The misconception that depression is anything but a medical condition is dangerous—if we think mental illness only happens to certain types of people or stigmatize it as simply a willpower deficiency, people who are in the battle of their lives won’t seek help.
And that’s tragic, because there is help—just like other medical conditions, depression has treatment options. Treatments that were developed by the medical community, using scientific methods. And of the many treatment plans available, not one is “snapping out of it.”
Hopefully when people see that someone like Robin Williams, who seemed to have everything to live for, can lose his life to mental illness, they’ll understand better that like other diseases, depression can happen to anyone, willpower isn’t a cure, and, most importantly, there is help.
We’re grieving over the loss of someone who touched so many lives to this dark and misunderstood illness. We’re also hopeful that this tragedy will foster a better understanding of those who are suffering, and give them the power to seek help. And finally, we’re celebrating Robin Williams’ life and the joy he brought us and countless others.
So in honor of the influence he had on our lives, we pulled together a highlights reel of some of his classic roles. We couldn’t possibly choose a favorite, but it made us happy to look back on so many of his greats.
Government Relations and Advocacy Manager