- Posted August 13, 2014 by
San Francisco, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The Dark Side of Robin Williams
The recent reporting of Robin William's troubles and how he chose to deal with them has, once again thrust suicide back into the spotlight and made it top-of-the-things-to-do list for those struggling to cope with depression.
If we examine Robin William's epic portrayal of the right-minded Professor in Good Will Hunting you could be forgiven for feeling a misplaced sense of loyalty to a figurehead that probably inspired thousands to look at themselves in the mirror. This was arguably one of William’s finest screen roles, and the juxtaposition of characters acted as a wake-up call for countless people in crisis. With its emphasis on collective responsibility and personal growth, I lost count the number of times I recommended others to go see the film.
Robin William’s suicide has done more than just rob us of one of the greatest comedy icons of this century. His death has unwittingly elevated suicide to a level that has made it almost acceptable in a world that doesn't tolerate imperfection. The hidden message, that this is how you deal with depression and financial debt when in crisis is a deadly dangerous one and is anathema to any right-minded individual. Media reporting around Robin William’s death has been excruciatingly painful to observe. Virtually all of the rules and guidelines surrounding the reporting of suicide have effectively been ignored.
One leading reporter made the claim that "suicide is not selfish" and prompted an outpouring of anger. Of course suicide is selfish. The very nature of the act is selfish because, suicide is, ultimately about destruction of self and there's escaping the fact that this is not a team decision. Suicide is a singularly aggressive act that more often than not defies reasoning or explanation. Those who try to argue that suicide is not selfish are merely trying to absolve themselves of the responsibility of their actions and blame it on somebody or something else. Suicide is a symptom of denial and those who choose it – from my experience – prefer not to examine the alternatives. They typically don’t want to deal with the pain. They don't want to deal with reality or how they got to that point in their lives. Simply put, they are choosing a permanent solution to a temporary problem and cannot see the wood for the trees. They want a quick effective solution to what they perceive as an intractable problem and who are we to deny them that right. That's perfectly understandable because let's face it who wants to deal with depression or the pain of living at times, but that is still no justification for choosing suicide. If those who die by suicide were to even consider the legacy of pain they leave for others while theirs is over they would probably never commit such an act. But they don't. The vast majority leave no note, no explanation and no apology. They are gone from us in an instant with no farewells or opportunity to share and that's what makes suicide so incredibly selfish. The person in that moment of madness is considering nobody else except themselves and to argue otherwise is totally preposterous. Which begs the question; who in their right mind would do such a thing? Who indeed? Plenty it would seem. Madness does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with suicide and some of the most right-minded individuals have taken their own lives in the false belief that they were doing the right thing. Those who suggest they were insane may be trying to rationalise an irrational act and that’s perfectly normal when trying to cope with an overwhelming sense of loss and grief.
Paradoxically, if you talk to anyone who has survived a suicide attempt they will argue that theirs was not a selfish act. They were doing it for others or to spare them the pain of living with whatever issue(s) they were struggling with at the time. This type of self-justification or deluded thinking is a common theme among survivors and if taken literally presents its own set of challenges. To suggest that any suicide is doing anyone a favour is delusional at best and misplaced at worst. No reasonable minded person wants anyone to die and to suggest otherwise is a distorted form of thinking that many people take to their graves. But that doesn’t make them mad in the literal sense of the word. This is a belief system that needs to be challenged and confronted in a therapeutic environment and to be shown for what it is. An irrational thought process that can have devastating consequences as we witness all too often in the press.