Anybody who knows me knows Mrs. Doubtfire is my favourite movie of all time. When I tell people that they look surprised and go "Really?" Though I haven't been counting I estimate to have watched the movie at least 1,000 times. I feel as if I can relate to it on so many levels. Growing up in the care of the Children's Aid Society it taught me my childhood could be disrupted by a series of unfortunate events while still having a little fun along the way. While the final outcome may not have been favourable it could still be considered OK.
Even I, as a mental health advocate, was beyond stunned to learn Robin Williams passed away of an apparent suicide. I immediately picked up my phone calling friends and texting others. They gasped, there was silence. There were questions as to what drove him to take his life.
There is absolutely no doubt Williams' death has sent shockwaves throughout Hollywood and around the world. As human its only natural to be curious and want answers to some burning questions we have. Why did Williams take his own life? What was he feeling?
The stark reality is that thousands of people around the world take their own lives every single day, yet I don't hear the world asking questions on a daily basis as to why people do it. The moment a celebrity or somebody takes his or her life we, as a society, are all over it. It makes me think if we talked about suicide this much when it wasn't in the news due to something like Williams' death we would be better off. We would be better educated, suicidal people would be more willing to talk, and more people would be willing to listen. If we did that perhaps we'd see a drop in suicides. How does that sound?
It is OK to express our shock and sorrow but anytime a celebrity dies of mental illness we tend to forget about all the good they did and it seems as if their cause of death becomes what they're ultimately remembered for.
According to Williams agent, the actor was deeply depressed the past while. With that revelation I've quickly heard people say Williams had nothing to be depressed about because he was so successful. Let me make something clear: Mental illness does not discriminate nor does it pick and choose who it affects. People of all genders, races, economic statuses, social classes, educational backgrounds, origins, etc. can have mental illness. Anybody can be diagnosed with mental illness at any given time. Money cannot cure mental illness because if it did I'd be maxing out my credit cards.
Don't get me wrong, it is OK to grieve for Williams and his family and it is OK to ask questions be curious. But let's not put Williams on a pedestal and only talk about suicide because it affected somebody famous. In addition to talking about Williams lets also talk about the thousands of other "normal" people who also died of suicide today.
Let this be the start of a conversation and dialogue that is for everybody and aims to educate everybody; because let's face it this conversation should have happened a long time ago. It would be a disservice and a dishonour to EVERYBODY who has ever lived with or died by mental illness to not be included in this dialogue.
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