Why did Robin Williams kill himself?

Serious question.

I battle depression and have had suicidal ideation, but Robin Williams? Rich, smart, healthy, settled, kids, current wife. What the hell? Unfortunately, there's no shortage of talented, wealthy people prematurely ending their lives.

His second marriage broke up after 19 years and two children. That is not really something a serious, intelligent person recovers from. Maybe he never got over it.

Was it current marital problems? Depressives hunker down, and you are not going to hear about it. But at Robin Williams' level, if you're really that unhappy you can tell her to take her severance pay and hit the road.

At 63 with three adult kids, his life should have been focused on maintaining his estate, advising his children and their spouses, and babysitting his grandkids. But now he's dead by his own hand.

Lord have mercy.


Anonymous said…
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
'Good-morning,' and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich - yes, richer than a king -
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

-E. A. Robinson
Bumbling American said…
Whenever a question is above my head I quote Walker Percy:

"Why do people often feel bad in good environments and good in bad environments? Why did Mother Teresa think that affluent Westerners often seemed poorer than the Calcutta poor, the poorest of the poor? The paradox comes to pass because the impoverishments and enrichments of a self in a world are not necessarily the same as the impoverishments and enrichments of an organism in an environment."


"With the passing of the cosmological myths and the fading of Christianity as a guarantor of the identity of the self, the self becomes dislocated, is both cut loose and imprisoned by its own freedom, yet imprisoned by a curious and paradoxical bondage like a Chinese handcuff, so that the very attempts to free itself, e.g., by ever more refined techniques for the pursuit of happiness, only tighten the bondage and distance the self ever farther from the very world it wishes to inhabit as its homeland. The rational Jeffersonian pursuit of happiness embarked upon in the American Revolution translates into the flaky euphoria of the late 20th century. Every advance in an objective understanding of the Cosmos and in its technological control further distances the self from the Cosmos precisely in the degree of the advance--so that in the end the self becomes a space-bound ghost which roams the very Cosmos it understands perfectly."
Percy's last sentence is for the win.
CJ said…
I've never dealt with depression, but from what I understand it isn't dependent on circumstances (which is a big distinction between depression and sadness). You might as well ask why someone with hypertension has a stroke. That's just what the disease does.
Harold Lloyd said…
This may be common knowledge, so forgive me, but often times there are more than one "selves" in a depressed person. An inner "true" self and then "shell" selve(s) who present a happier picture to the public. The external self is what we see and it is unlikely the inner self lets itself be exposed. No one other than himself and those who he confides in has any idea how things are actually going.

There are different types of depressive. If I was in his material wealth situation, I probably would have bailed and become a hermit somewhere to cope with my depression. Others either feel obligated or trapped while living out their lie, day in and day out. Finally they just give in. The internal burden too much to carry.

From my personal experience, much of it depends on core motivation. What drives a person? Unfortunately that is one of those "Why?" questions that isn't easily answered by science. You can lead a horse to water, etc. Perhaps it is projection, but I always figured that is what is making western civilization sick as well. We've just hit a "Why Bother?" collective depressive state. All the boomers and their reverse mortgages in the world can't answer "Why?"
Men of imagined wit will bluster and jest,

To veil soft sentiment beneath stolid breast.

But when dark spectre fouls conscience to fret,

Know that behind false names, one has friends still unmet.

Rev. Right said…
"I battle depression..."

You are one of the most lucid writers covering the topics you do, and your insights are absolutely unique. I for one am happy to have found this odd little corner of the internet.
Anonymous said…
"His second marriage broke up after 19 years and two children. That is not really something a serious, intelligent person recovers from. Maybe he never got over it."

Didn't Mel Gibson's DWI and Anti-Semitic meltdown happen shortly after he found out his wife of several decades was planning to leave him (I don't think it was public knowledge at the time)? I wonder if the Jew-baiting wasn't a half-hearted attempt at "Suicide by Cop", since the high-speed drunk driving didn't kill him as planned.
lannes said…
Let's hope we have finally heard the last about Robin Williams.
You would think the Emperor died.
Harold Lloyd said…
Koko the Gorilla mourning Robin Williams: "Dr. Patterson told Koko that 'we have lost a dear friend, Robin Williams.' Koko signed 'CRY LIP,' withdrew, and 'became very somber, with her head bowed and her lip quivering.'"