The recent death of one of the funniest men on film has unearthed more debate about suicide and why people do it. One of the more unsavory elements of the coverage is the amount of people with the misplaced belief that suicide is a selfish and cowardly act taken by people who have no thought for the ones left behind. In effect, it is normally a result of a long tumultuous journey through mental illness and comes generally at a point when the sufferer may truly believe that those left behind would be far better off without them around.
Robin Williams gave something truly wonderful to the world in the form of art, creativity and laughter. However, he was blighted by a dark side. We never saw this in him and never guessed the turmoil he was going through but it was enough for him to want to leave this world. What went through his mind at the end, no one will know but I am sure he felt the world closing in on him slowly but surely.
Mental illness is that way. Living with severe depression or bipolar or any other depressive disorder means you have to fight every day. Not just against the stigma and prejudice that is often associated with sufferers but mostly with yourself. It can be controlled with medication or therapy or both but it is always there lurking in the background. As Hemingway said…it returns like an old friend every so often. This constant daily battle can be won but when a number of things come along at the same time, with no visible or viable solution in sight, things can become extremely difficult. It might then be difficult to get help from the same people who are always there, not because of them but due to the thought that you are a burden on them constantly. These thoughts can drive you to find solutions for yourself. I honestly believe that often people who commit suicide do not truly want to die but want to find a way to end the pain they are feeling. This need can lead to confusion about the right course of action.
I unfortunately know this from personal experience seen in my job and my own reality as a severely depressed youth when these thoughts often crossed my mind. I can tell you for sure that your own well-being is the last thing on your mind.