Friday, August 15, 2014

In Memory of Robin Williams

It was  a sad beginning to this week, the announcements of Robin Williams' death. Among the many tributes, statements, and video clips I've read and watched, I think the one of most poignant comes from this quote by David Foster Wallace about suicide:

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”

Certainly, the depths that depression and mental illness reaches cannot be underestimated. I do hope that amid the sadness and shock of Williams' death comes a greater awareness of, and compassion for, mental illness and the havoc it can wreak on an individual. 

To the mighty and talented Robin Williams, I hope you're resting in peace. Finally.

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