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Mourning Robin Williams: The Tragedy of Suicide


I’m not one for celebrity gossip.

For the most part, I’m content to let the stars of Hollywood live out their drama in their own world of fame. There are very few actors whose lives I pay attention to, or whose deaths I truly mourn.

Robin Williams is one of the them.

And tonight I am saddened. I am grieved by the death of a man who made his living through his expression of joy and laughter, who lived with a kindness and dignity that is greatly admired.

I mourn a man who struggled with the massive burden of depression so deep that he simply could not find a way out, and took his own life.


He seemed so happy! She had so much to live for. How could he…how could she…why?

To the healthy, suicide makes no sense. To those on the outside of the intense pain and emptiness, the idea of ending one’s own life is horrific. This is as it should be.

But to those who have experienced that darkness and the feeling of unending despair, suicide can appear like the only way out of the pain.

Depression is a terrible illness that shows up in many ways. Some struggle with it their entire life, and for others depression manifests itself after a massive life change or trauma. Depression can be brought on by pregnancy or medical conditions.

Contrary to what many believe, your life can appear perfect and you can still be depressed.

You can be wealthy and still struggle with what Winston Churchill famously termed his “black dog”. You can have fame and fortune and love and admiration, and take your life. Mr. Williams did. While the world loved and saw a man full of talent and life, an actor whose work brought joy and tears and inspiration and understanding, he had a pain that was unbearable and unexplainable.

I believe that the line separating genius and madness is thin. Those with great talent can suffer unspeakable sadness, as Mr. Williams did.

We who sit and wonder at the reason behind his death will never be satisfied, because we will never fully understand. His wife, his children, his beloved family and friends will forever wonder why.

To those of you who have struggled with the weight of depression and thoughts of suicide, you are warriors who are fighting a beast, but you do not fight alone.

Like so many things that thrive in darkness and secrecy, depression grows when hidden and diminishes when shared. There is no shame in feeling hopeless, there is no shame in feeling helpless.

Robin Williams lived a life that shone with greatness and ended so abruptly, so tragically and in a way which few, if any, could have predicted. Suicide, unlike any other type of death, carries a weight with it, an intensity that defies logic.

And so I mourn a man whom I never met and never knew. I mourn not just because of the sudden loss of his talent or his greatness or his wit. I mourn because he died believing he was alone in his agony and pain and could not see beyond this falsehood.

I mourn for those left behind who would give anything to have him back.

If you are struggling with wanting to hurt yourself, if you feel like your life is not worth living, if you simply want to end, I urge you, I beg you, to get help. Find someone who will listen to you. Tell your doctor. Talk to your priest, your teacher, your spouse. Each death to suicide is one too many.



Mourning Robin Williams: The Tragedy of Suicide

Jenise Harmon, MSW, LISW-S

Jenise Harmon, LISW-S, is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Columbus, Ohio. She works with individuals and couples, and specializes in relationship counseling. She's now offering online counseling for residents of Ohio. Stay Connected . Follow her on twitter; and connect with her on Facebook.

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APA Reference
Harmon, J. (2014). Mourning Robin Williams: The Tragedy of Suicide. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 8, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Aug 2014
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