It’s terrible that it was a factor that led Robin Williams to where he could see nothing worth living for any longer. But as a friend and I discussed casually today, anybody who has ever really struggled with depression certainly understands the battle Robin faced. I heard actress Patty Duke discussing her own bouts with depression in relation to a book she has written about her own struggles with it.
Estimates of the number of Americans who struggle with depression is reported regularly in the media...but I know the number is wrong, because I know plenty of people who have struggled with depression who have never gone to a doctor or counselor to discuss it, so they are not counted in the statistics. These statistics, at best are merely educated estimates.
Many people struggle with depression in our world, and some of those people are individuals who smile and laugh a lot in life, at least on the outside.
Or those who offer lots of other little quick fixes, each of which provides mounting evidence that the person offering the advice has no clue what depression is really like. None.
Perhaps one of the most useful things to note from the suicide of Mr. Williams is that he was doing those things, and yet, it wasn’t enough.
In other words, there are NOT simple little magic answers and there certainly are not any “one size fits all” solutions.
Depression IS a tough thing to deal with, and since divorce also means you have lost a hugely significant relationship, then one of life’s support pillars is no longer available. That alone can be very depressing.
Some may not experience as much depression as others, but some experience incredibly intense depression and, like Mr. Williams, may not be able to find their way out. There is a time a place for intervention, and hospitalization is sometimes the only way for individuals to turn the necessary corners and receive the needed help.
As a friend, you can offer support, love, friendship, advice, and it can make a huge difference. But you must also realize you cannot “fix” individuals struggling with depression…that individual has to make choices themselves, too. They have to choose to take the medicine, to call the suicide prevention hotline, to quit drinking and adding more depressants into their bodies, to get up out of bed in the morning and do something... even though they don’t feel like they have the energy.
Sadly, sometimes no matter how much help and support is available, the end of the story may not be a happy one. And, as those who loved Robin found out, family and friends cannot always change that ending, no matter how much they might wish they could.
In fact, Hebrews calls this hope of faith as the anchor for our souls. Suicide from depression so often occurs because the individual has lost all sense of hope. Why would we neglect offering the great hope offered by Christ as a significant part of help for those despairing in hopelessness?
The apparently suicidal death of Robin Williams is a sad thing. His family has my prayers. Sadder still would be if none of his friends ever told him that even in our darkest hour, there is hope, a hope that can be found only in Christ. Those of us who have times that we struggle with depression may indeed have times we walk through very dark valleys in life. But if we also have Christ, we never have to walk those valleys alone.