Oh, Robin 1

I am shocked that he’s dead, but not how he died. He’s had a long history of addiction and mental health issues. I’ve seen people say how shocking it is that someone so happy would take his own life.

Part of the problem with depression is that others don’t realize a suicidal person can fake a smile or make you laugh while also wanting to die. They can lie with the best of them and tell you that a they don’t want to die. Depressed people become very skilled at this sort of thing. And, when the person has an Academy Award for his ability to act, they can convince the world that they aren’t suffering.

But he did suffer.

He acknowledged that suffering openly, but no one would think anything of it. He could have cried out in the open and people wouldn’t have noticed, or they would have just said he was a little sad that day. People don’t pay attention to this level of pain. People don’t want to act like this kind of suffering exists in the world. And when they do acknowledge it, they like to put labels on it. Their favorite label: selfish.

People who are mentally ill get called this.

Depressed? Selfish.

Anxious? Selfish.

Suicidal? Selfish.

Actually committing suicide? This is the most selfish thing you could ever do.

This is what I like to call bullshit.

Mental illness and suicide are not selfish. They are a result of a real problem. This problem can be different for every person. People aren’t just thinking of themselves and their pain. When I’m suicidal, I wholly feel that my death will make people that I care about feel better. I think that my death would be the best thing I could do for everyone everywhere. It’s not just my pain that cripples me when I’m depressed and suicidal, it’s that I begin to feel like I am the cause of the pain and suffering of those around me.

And people forget that mental illness has a physical element to it. Low levels or inefficient processing of Serotonin, Norepinephrine, Dopamine, GABA, etc. can make a person depressed. It can lead to suicidal feelings. It can lead to them feeling like they will never be better and that they are prolonging the inevitable. They can choose to end their treatments.

On ONTD, some compared suicide and depression to cancer, and that’s a really good comparison.

If a person with cancer chooses not to go through with treatment anymore, knowing that it will result in the death of that individual, that’s a choice. They’ve made a choice that will end their lives. Or, if they choose to increase pain medication (which slows their breathing and can result in death) to ease the process of dying, then they have also made a choice that will end their lives. If a person with depression chooses feels that treatment will no longer help with their condition, then takes their own life, it’s the same thing. Or, if they choose to hasten their death by taking more medicine or using some other method, then it’s also the same thing.

Depression and mental health issues can have physical origins. If they didn’t, then drugs like Prozac (which works with neurotransmitters) wouldn’t help some people. Mental illness is an issue within the nervous system. Other nervous system issues are not so heavily stigmatized. You never hear someone saying that a person discontinuing treatment for epilepsy or cancer or MS is making a selfish choice. If that’s not selfish, then suicide is not selfish.

I am saying this as a person who has had a mother who has attempted suicide over a dozen times and been in and out of psychiatric facilities, a person who has other seriously mentally ill family members, and a person who has been in therapy & has had self-injurious feelings, as well as suicidal tendencies off and on for over twenty years.

Technically, his suicide was a choice, but it was not the kind people usually think of. It was a choice to end the suffering, to end his pain. It was no different from a cancer patient saying no more. Yes, it meant that left his family, friends, and fans, but that doesn’t mean that we should judge this decision. This was something that he felt was necessary. Who are we to judge that? And if we call him selfish for ending his life, then are we not being selfish for judging him for a desperate sort of pain that so many have obviously not even bothered to notice?

About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.

One thought on “Oh, Robin

  • Sara

    I think part of the reason why people don’t speak out is exactly what you have written – because they get labelled ‘selfish’.
    When I’m down, not because I am sad, but because depression pulls me to the ground like gravity, I start behaving differently; I become recluse-like, I am angry and I am tearful.

    …and the comments I usually get are ‘why are you so angry all the time’, ‘why are you so grumpy’, ‘Sara won’t come again, she’s always making excuses’ (as anxiety kicks in, I have to get away and be alone), ‘Sara is lazy’, because it is always my fault that this happens as when I get depressed, I am not me and this I cannot control.

    …but I usually end up getting blamed and in the end, not one person asks me how I am feeling or if I have problems.

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