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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

The Death of Robin Williams and The #1 Reason It Shocks Us

I can only imagine that the news of Robin William’s apparent suicide today hit you in the gut. We can’t believe someone so talented would choose to take his own life. Why would someone with so much going for him want to end his life?

Psychologists know the answer.

The answer is Depression.

Depression causes you to have unclear thinking. It causes cognitive distortions. It leaves you hopeless. People who are depressed feel alone.

The #1 reason that the death of Robin Williams shocks us is because we can’t relate.

It doesn’t make sense why someone so talented, so loved, would do this to himself.

Most of us would admit to feeling sad and hopeless - at times. But, most of us can’t understand feeling so depressed that suicide is an option.

We hope that anyone who feels depressed to the point of self-harm would ask for help.

Many don’t.

Recently I wrote a blog post about The 5 Truths About Depression. It seems incredibly relevant today. In case you missed it, click here.

So, why can’t you relate to those who are suicidal? Because . . . .

  1. You know how much it would hurt your friends and family to cope with your loss.

  2. You know that there are always other options over suicide.

  3. You recognize that you have something to offer, even if things look grim.

  4. You wouldn’t give up.

  5. You would reach out for help.

  6. You would have hope that things could get better.

Suicide is preventable. But the feelings go like this:

In the grips of depression, a suicidal person feels desperate. They have tunnel vision and are focused on getting relief from the psychological pain. They can fake happy in the midst of their depression to spare you their grief. Once a suicidal person has a specific plan, they can look as if they are feeling better. But once they have a plan, they feel better because they know that their emotional suffering will finally end and they feel relief. The feelings that lead up to a suicide are desolate and sad . . . dark and hopeless. Others may try to help, sensing the pain but the psychological walls may be too thick to allow those who want to help to get in.

To learn more, watch the video below that is I posted on my YouTube Channel.

You can subscribe to my channel so you are sure to get new videos when they are added by clicking here.

Everyone who commits suicide is depressed but not everyone who is depressed is suicidal or commits suicide.

Depression can be treated.

If you have attempted suicide, feel suicidal, or feel depressed and see suicide as an option, you can get help through the American Association of Suicidology. For information about a crisis center near you, click here.

If you know someone who might be suicidal and want to find out the best way to help, here is a resource from the Mayo Clinic to learn more click here.

The death of Robin Williams will bring the issue of depression and suicide forward. It is up to us to continue the discussion beyond our shock.

Robin Williams was an admired actor.

He was also someone’s son, father, brother, husband, grandson, friend, and mentor. He was a member of a community, a family, and an industry.

Let’s learn from this so we can go on to help prevent the suicide of someone else.

Until next time,

Featured photo ©

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