Why Robin Williams' suicide touched me so deeply

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Robin Williams, the comedian who could also put poise and power into his dramatic roles, has died at the age of 63 after an apparent suicide by asphyxiation according to Huffington Post.

The actor had battled severe depression, and substance abuse and was in rehab just a few months ago.

Now, if you’re a millennial like me, you’ll be especially sad. Robin Williams was part of so many of our childhoods. He was the smooth-talking Genie in Aladdin. The man who was willing to dress up like an old British nanny in Mrs Doubtfire. The teacher who told us all to “Carpe diem! Seize the day!” in Dead Poets Society. The grown man who was actually a little boy in Jack. And the accountant who forgot he was Peter Pan in Hook.

One of my earliest memories is laughing uncontrollably at this scene in Mrs Doubtfire with my siblings where he’s cleaning house to Aerosmith’s Dude Looks Like A Lady. It was happy-making. A sequel to the movie was being planned for 2015.

So how does a man who seems so happy, who could make millions of people laugh by just being himself go through 63 years of life and then give up?

Many of Robin’s characters were zany, manic, or over the top, but the actor said this was only ever something he did for the sake of the character while his depression was more personal. He was never diagnosed with clinical depression or as being bipolar, but the actor did admit to feeling “sad” and it hitting him hard.

But there were other demons that Robin faced. After 20 years of sobriety, he started drinking again in 2006. He went back to rehab after realising that he needed help. He also recently entered rehab in 2014 to “fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment” to staying sober, as one of his reps said to TIME .

So maybe it was all just too much? Maybe the sadness hit him too hard. Maybe those demons all caught up with him. Maybe he thought the world would be a better place without him because he didn’t understand that the world was a great place with him in it.

But we’ll never really know. Because the only person who really knew any of this was Robin. And he’s gone now. It doesn’t matter if he left a note, or recorded a video – his loved ones will never really be able to wrap their heads around all of this.

I don’t think I ever will after my stepfather committed suicide 3 months ago.

My stepfather was a happy man. At least, he seemed that way. He was always willing to crack a joke, or tell you a story. He couldn’t wait for my mother and I to get home at night when he would chat for ages about what was going on in the world (he just loved talking about the Oscar trial. It really interested him), or what wasn’t happening in the world.

He would tell stories about District Six (where he grew up with my mom), and all the naughty things he did as a kid. He told us about living in PE where he moved after he got married to another woman. He told me that my mother was “the one that got away” and he was so happy to be with her even if he had to wait 40 years for it to happen.

I remember waking up in the morning to hear him singing in the bathroom, or making my mother laugh so loud I thought the neighbours could hear her. Or him dancing around the living room. Having a little bit too much to drink at his birthday party and giggling at himself.

I never thought he was depressed. I didn’t see it coming.

Then, I needed to go on a trip for work. He drove me to the airport. On the way in the car, he was a bit more quiet than usual, but I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t know this would be the last time I would see him alive.

The next evening, my mother came to fetch me. We arrived home and brought my bags inside. After a few minutes, my mom needed to go around back to pull in the car and I needed to throw something away.

It was dark. We didn’t see him at first. But then I heard my mother shout. I turned around and there he was hanging from the burglar bars in our backyard. The chair he had jumped from lay kicked over to one side.

I ran inside to get a knife. My mother held her husband’s body while I cut him down, but it was already too late. He was gone. Dead.

There was no note. We suspect he burned it along with a few other things. But even that couldn’t have made this less uneasy to deal with.

He and my mom were married for less than a year. In fact, his funeral was the day before their first anniversary.

He also left behind 3 children and an ex-wife who also have no idea why he chose to do this.

But he did.

And now we’re all left to try and pick up the pieces and figure them out on our own. I just wish I could have done something.

If you or if you think someone you know and love might be suicidal, call SADAG and talk to a trained counsellor

0800 21 22 23  (8am to 8pm)

0800 12 13 14  (8pm to 8am)

Or SMS 31393

Follow Carmen on Twitter.


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