Today the world has lost a wonderful actor, comedic genius and human being. Robin Williams was found dead at his home at the age of sixty-three. His passing is an alleged suicide and the result of many years battling depression. His acting career brought smiles to children and adults over several decades, yet in a tragic twist of fate, it appears that laughter did not serve as his own medicine.
From Mork & Mindy, Good Will Hunting, Mrs Doubtfire and Aladdin, Robin Williams was an iconic comedic figure whose films are definitive of many childhoods; being passed through the family tree like a right of passage. A good friend to many actors and a great teacher, you only have to read today's tabloids to know that he has influenced many people's lives.
What is most heart-rending about this news is the contradiction- a man who exudes laughter, yet who is suffering from endless sadness. It just goes to show how one person's exterior doesn't always match the battles they are fighting within. Proving that he really was a brilliant actor, it appears that for much of his life, Robin was in character. Aware of exposing his vulnerability, many of his friends have stated that he often masked his feelings through comedy; the laughter of other's being his armour.
Robin once stated in an interview regarding a young boy's suicide; "If you're that depressed, reach out to someone. Remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." A man only too aware of the implications of such actions, one can only imagine the pain he must have experienced in the moments leading up to his death, when ending your life is the only option. After years of fighting depression, there's only so long that one can battle their demons for, and I suspect that sharing your darkest thoughts with someone in your loneliest hours isn't always going to erase your problems and persistent pain. Sometimes it goes beyond repair.
I guess there's little option for you to bare your feelings to the world when you have been awarded the role of everyone's clown. One of Robin's quotes goes as follows;
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, its not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone."
Whether this was a nod to fame and the isolation that comes with a celebrity status such as his, is unknown. A close friend of the actor has since said "No matter where he was, people would recognise him. He sold his privacy to the public. He could be in the middle of talking in the street and someone would come up for an autograph...he didn't realise how much he sold his privacy to people."
I can only assume that in your deepest hours of depression, it is insignificant to think that people will miss you, or that you are loved. In Robin's case; a remarkable career, wonderful children, a loving wife, money, and knowing that many people admired you, was not suffice. Your own pain surpasses the most positive of thoughts. I suppose a huge amount of pressure comes with people relying on you to make them smile and ease their pain. For the funny guy to admit that he wasn't feeling so happy would have taken away the very essence of everything that he represented. Feeling alone is a recurring symptom of depression and sometimes it's difficult to talk to people about your problems when you feel as though no one can relate.
Regarding fame - from Philip Seymour-Hoffman, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger and so on, we have lost countless examples of extraordinary talent over the past years. It seems that the rate of deaths in Hollywood is escalating. It is becoming more evident that the shiny pedestal that fame puts you on is a lonely, confusing and isolated place to be. Ripped from under your feet as quickly as it arrived, the fact that fame is so easily disposed of, makes it that much more of a vulnerable place to be.
I suppose that the most heart-warming thought to come from this is to know that it is possible to touch the lives of people that you have never met. The fact that many of us, being strangers to Robin are experiencing a deep feeling of loss today is something quite remarkable.