the tragic loss of Robin Williams and many others reveals not only the haunting shadows of drug abuse and depression, but also sheds light to the unknown internal battles people fight on a daily basis. as with all battles, some tragically lose their lives and remain defeated on the battlefield.
with every suicide story i always wonder how someone could commit such an egocentric and impulsive action. how can they be completely oblivious and apathetic to the impact of the consequences of their actions upon on all the people they’ve met and influenced throughout their life?
as a child, i tremendously feared death, especially the death of my family. i was so afraid of it that every time my parents would drive by a cemetery, i would close my eyes and wait until we passed by. i would have random days where i would lay on my twin sized bed and begin crying into my pillow as a toddler and thought to myself:
“if they die, how can anyone replace them?”
“if i miss them, how can i ever see them?”
“if i want to hold their hand, how can i touch them?”
“if i want to hear their voice, how can i hear them?”
as i got older, i no longer feared death because i learned that it wasn’t death that i was afraid of, it was the grief that subsequently followed. partly, i may have embraced it merely because i accepted it as being part of the cycle of life. despite the acceptance of it, i still harbor a passionate hate for it, as it can take away the life of any one person at any given time without any preparation or warning.
there will be many times in life where you’ll feel as if everything you’ve lived for is falling apart into shambles, leaving you despondent and angry at yourself, others around you, or the world. as humans, we tend to forget that these moments are temporary trials that will pass at an unforeseen time. unfortunately, if we don’t quickly dig ourselves out of this pit, we will eventually convince ourselves that happiness is a myth and end up another tragedy.
i do not believe that a majority of victims who fall victim to suicide specifically plan when they decide to die. they’re exhausted from fighting the demons of depression and/or drug withdrawal conjoined with the unpredictable highs and lows of varying degrees of all types of emotions, leaving them without any energy to devise such plan. they eventually convince themselves that they are no longer “normal,” depleting a sense of belonging to others around them.
i also believe that when someone is suicidal, they do not schedule in their calendar to die next Wednesday because in actuality they feel as if they want to die every day. only when the unfortunate fate of the exceeded threshold of frustration and impulse and an opportune moment of pure isolation finally meet, does such “plan” unfold.
there will always be a stigma on suicide because people fear the unknown and are quick to shun it. especially for those who have never experienced true depression, it may seem to be merely an over exaggerated fabrication produced by weak souls seeking the attention of others. even if that were to be true, i would like to believe that the ability to take a life, regardless of whether it’s one’s own or another, is driven by more than just an attention seeking desire.
it’s hard to imagine the fear and loneliness one would face when approaching the peak of desperation. i can only assume that it would feel as if your heart was crawling up your throat along with a feeling of pure hopelessness and loss of all authority. as you climb closer to the peak, a voice manifests into your mind, echoing that the only freedom from this piercing internal torment is death. only then will these constant invasive thoughts and feelings of regret, remorse, and self-hatred will finally be silenced.
every day we are faced with different problems, issues, and struggles and protect ourselves using various coping mechanisms. when we are unable to find solutions, we can either cope or surrender to it. in psychology, there are many studies done on conscious and unconscious coping mechanisms that people develop and adjust throughout their lives in order to adapt to certain situations.
one example is the “reaction formation” defense mechanism, in which the person acts opposite to how they truly feel in an exaggerated and obsessive way (Hock, Roger R. “Reading 30: You’re Getting Defensive Again!” Forty Studies That Changed Psychology. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2013. 233-38). maybe all the laughter Robin Williams brought to his audiences was an exaggeration of the sadness he had within him and he was simply using a reaction formation defense mechanism to hide how he truly felt. it is as if he finally reached the point where he could no longer pretend to accept such hypocrisy.
Jim Norton wrote in Time.com that “(t)he funniest people I know seem to be the ones surrounded by darkness. And that’s probably why they’re the funniest. The deeper the pit, the more humor you need to dig yourself out of it.” so with this in mind, how many more painted faces of happiness will result in more tragedies?
the ability to find solace within despair, hope during times of hopelessness, truth within a horde of lies, and trust in a future that does not yet exist are the most difficult emotional challenges in life. we often forget that there are people who do not even possess the basic necessities of life, yet they still choose life over death. that there are people diagnosed with diseases who fight night and day just to wake up to live another day because life is precious, beautiful, and worth fighting for.
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
– The Tempest, Act IV, Scene I
it is said that we truly realize what death really is at the very moment when it falls within arm’s reach. before that time comes, we are just simply living and continuing our daily activities, not realizing that tomorrow may simply be the last.
rest in peace Robbin Williams and to all those who’s time here on earth have been cut short. i hope that you finally found your peace and know that you will always be missed.