Comedy, substance abuse and depression: reflecting on Robin Williams’ life and death
I learned about Robin Williams, 63, the old-fashioned way. My husband walked in the house and announced, “The world is a sadder place today.”[icopyright one button toolbar]
“Mom and dad just heard on the TV. Robin Williams has died.”
From devastation to disbelief, colleagues and admirers of Robin Williams reflect on his death: http://t.co/zIRXOWMUqn
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 12, 2014
A quick search of Twitter confirmed the sad news.
And then the double-whammy: suicide.
Oh Captain my Captain – very sad. RIP Mork, Genie & Mrs. Doubtfire – Robin Williams dies at 63 in apparent suicide http://t.co/yjIsg8AQgV
— Bobby Umar (@raehanbobby) August 12, 2014
In 2006, he talked publicly about substance abuse and treatment.
A Good Morning America interview hints at the darkness of his depression:
“It’s the same voice thought that … you’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump,'” Williams told Sawyer.
“The same voice that goes, ‘Just one.’ … And the idea of just one for someone who has no tolerance for it, that’s not the possibility.”
Someone just stopped us in a bar in Montreal to let us know that Robin Williams committed suicide. Rest in Peace. Forever the genie.
— Deanna Grant (@deannacgrant) August 12, 2014
He elaborated in a People magazine interview:
“Cocaine for me,” Williams told PEOPLE in 1988, “was a place to hide… It slowed me down… And I was so crazy back then – working all day, partying most of the night – I needed an excuse not to talk. I needed quiet times and I used coke to get them.”
Robin Williams’ passing is a reminder that those who make us laugh the most are usually fighting the biggest demons… rest in peace.
— ? (@sabrinareid_) August 12, 2014
Depression + Substance Abuse Too Often = Suicide
Clinically, the two — depression and substance abuse — increase the risk of suicide.
We don’t know if there are “genetic as well as social or environmental factors that predispose an individual to an increased risk for both disorders” — substance abuse and depression.
But we do know that one increases the risk of the other:
The analysis revealed that the presence of either disorder doubled the risks of the second disorder…Further evidence suggests that the most plausible causal association between AUD [alcohol use disorders] and MD [major depression] is one in which AUD increases the risk of MD, rather than vice versa
— The Gazette (@csgazette) August 12, 2014
Last year the Express (UK) explored the relationship between comedians and depression. The Mail (UK) followed up in January: Why comedians ARE a little bit mad: Funnymen’s personalities are similar to those with mental health conditions.
First thing I thought of when I heard about robin Williams pic.twitter.com/uLQQak97Nn
— Kyle (@Kyle___Rogers) August 12, 2014
What does it mean, that a celebrity as gargantuan as Robin Williams could talk publicly about depression and substance abuse … and yet succumb to suicide?
We can hear/see commercials for Erectile Dysfunction, for pete’s sake. It’s past time we talked openly about depression.
Can we find a silver lining in Robin’s death?
Just reading the news on Robin Williams. Depression is a horrible illness. Very tragic. Queued The Fisher King on… http://t.co/5iZWViFFjE
— Charlie Mosbrook (@CharlieMosbrook) August 12, 2014