On Robin Williams’ Death, and Depression

“Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.’ Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!”

–  Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society


I was hesitant to write about Robin Williams, because it seems like everyone in the world has already. However, being a teenager, I’m one of many people who grew up with some of Williams’ films, my personal favorites being Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Flubber, and even a re-watch of Hook several weeks ago.

I recently read something online that compared Robin Williams to that uncle who you don’t see very often, but always makes you laugh when you do. I agree with this in full.

The news of his passing has been all over social media for the past few days, and I could sit here and spout what everyone else has already said: how tragic this loss is, how our prayers are with his family, and most notably, how ironic that a man who made people so happy was so internally gloomy.

I think that’s perhaps the most heartbreaking part of all of this: an entire generation of people owes this man a million laughs, and that wasn’t enough to make him feel like he had a purpose in this world.

But once again, I’m repeating what countless others have already noted. So instead, I’d like to deviate from my usual light theme of this blog and talk for a minute about something serious: depression, and getting help for it.

I should say outright I’m not nearly the most qualified person to comment on this. I’m not a psychologist, and I’ve never been depressed personally. But I am a teenager, and every day of high school and even sometimes college, you look around and see the kids who are having a tougher time with the world than others.

What do you do? It’s not exactly social convention to run up to a total stranger and go, “Hi, talk to me about your problems.” There is an incredible emphasis in high school about minding your place, which I’ve always hated.

I have a “helping person” mentality. I briefly touched on this in a previous post. I am one of those people who feels an incredible urge to help others with their problems, and to be there for my friends no matter what. If someone complains about a bad day on Twitter (which, come on, is pretty much the reason Twitter exists), I’ll send them a couple of humor pics from iFunny to cheer them up. If someone texts me saying, “Hey I have a problem,” I’ll listen to them for as long as they need.

I don’t do this because I see myself as some saint, I do it because I think that’s how everyone should treat each other. No, I don’t want the world turned into a place of constantly outpoured emotions, and I don’t want to give people excuses to whine about the tiniest of inconveniences. But if someone needs, like, help, I think that every person, particularly teenagers, should be willing to listen to a friend in need.

And if you are that friend in need, then the best thing I can say is, look for someone who’s willing to listen. The world isn’t full of heartless people; at least, I’d hope not. I would hope that deep down, no one actually wants a tragedy like this one. It’s just that sometimes, people become too consumed—for want of a better term—with their own lives and busyness. And if you think that feeling alone equates to no one caring about you, just look at this awful event. Robin Williams felt alone. The man was a master of laughs who moved a generation, and he felt alone. If only he could see the outpouring of love and sorrow now that he’s gone.

What I’m trying to say is, to anyone who feels alone, don’t give up on the world. This place is full of good, caring people, and it shouldn’t take something as awful as suicide to remind everyone of that.

The world is a sadder place with Robin Williams gone, and I know many of us will miss him immensely. However, in accordance with the request of his wife, I would prefer to remember all the joy he brought people rather than the sadness created by his passing.

Rest in peace Mr. Williams, you’ll always be loved.