And I also hate to be a vulture at a dead celebrity's funeral, but I feel like I've got some standing to say a thing or two, so I'm gonna. Again.
|From Village Voice film editor Alan Scherstuhl|
There's a temptation for people born with a tragic lack of empathy to decide that suicide is selfish cowardice. And there's a temptation for people born with human decency to see suicide as a tragic inevitability. The viewpoint of the humanly decent is the far more dangerous temptation.
See, Williams' suicide was either a choice or it wasn't. I don't know which is logically true. However, we must believe that suicide is a choice (even a selfish one), if the rest of us are to survive. See, if suicide is a tragic inevitability for some, then the rest of us with mental illness may just be killing time until our tragic inevitability comes along. Thinking that suicide is ever the answer to depression might well get a person killed.
The empathetically challenged seem to think that people with depression sit around whining and feeling sorry for themselves, sit around choosing to see nothing but the bad, and give up when things are hard.
That is the exact opposite of the truth.
When you're suicidally depressed, you wake up with a swarm of hornets in your head, and each one's mission in life is to end yours. All day long they lobby you with proof you don't deserve to exist. Ever more compelling arguments about how much better your loved ones would be without you. Helpful hints like "Hey, we're going really fast! We should drive into oncoming traffic!" or "If you die now, your wife actually has a shot at a happy marriage."
Like a fish that must keep swimming to survive, you have to brave that onslaught all day long. You go to bed with brain swollen and bleeding; should you have the great fortune of being able to sleep, the hornets come along to poison your dreams. It's unspeakably exhausting.
Robin Williams stopped swimming. Understandable, certainly. But was it inevitable, or even acceptable? Not if you want to live, it's not.