My heart ached when I read the news about Robin Williams…not just because I really love many of his movies, but because this tragedy follows in the wake of another suicide in my life. My best friend’s cousin just took his own life a few weeks ago, at the age of 26. It is just so horrible, so sad, so tragic. When my friend’s aunt, his mother, turned to me at the memorial service, she said to me, “I just don’t understand why he would do this.” The only response I could even fathom to give is, “He was just in so much pain.” I obviously do not know Robin Williams, but I know to inflict harm on yourself, you must be so distressed, so broken, so hopeless. The thing is I know two people (three if you count Robin Williams, who I obviously don’t personally know, but who had a very public personae) who have taken their own lives and they all have one trait in common…they all seemed happy. “Seem” is a dangerous word- I know from my own family and childhood that things often are not what they seem. My friend’s cousin was a gentle giant- he was so sweet and always had a smile for me when we saw each other. He never really revealed his suffering to the world, though those who knew him best knew his struggles with addiction. The other young man I knew was a former student’s older brother (although still just a teenager), who also was energetic, funny and outgoing…just not a person you would ever expect to commit suicide.
It just makes me so sad to think about someone suffering so much while trying to convince the world that they are okay.