News of Robin Williams’ death has only just been released at the time of this writing with “suicide by asphyxiation” cited as the most probable cause. Obviously, this autopsy is subject to change, but it’s a shocking revelation nonetheless. Robin Williams committing suicide? Why does that sound so wrong? The energetic comedian/actor taking his own life at 63 years of age?
Premature deaths aren’t uncommon in Hollywood, the intense scrutiny and pressure public figures must face have taken the lives of many celebrities in the past like Heath Ledger in ’08 and Micheal Jackson in ’09. In those cases at least, their passing was tied with unhealthy or risky habits such as heavy drug use or malnutrition. Williams is also known to have had serious alcohol and drug related issues, but as far as we know that isn’t the cause of death. Police say he hung himself, a deliberate and successful attempt at ending his own life. And it begs the question: Why?
Psychologist Todd B. Kashdan, says that people who commit suicide do so because they feel as though they are a burden to others. They believe the world doesn’t need them anymore and so there’s no reason to live. It’s difficult to apply this to someone like Robin Williams though. He’s an established figure with what looks to us like a very successful career and loving family. During his acceptance speech for the Icon Award in 2012, Williams seemed so blessed and grateful as he talked about his life in retrospect.
“I’m one of the luckiest fucks in show business with the possible exception of Ryan Seacrest,” he said at the Award Show, “I’m so god damn lucky man!”
A year before that Williams was promoting Nintendo’s remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the 3DS with commercials that featured him talking to his daughter, Zelda, about being a hero. His last tweet on July 31st, showed an old photo of Williams alongside his daughter as a baby wishing her a happy 25th birthday. All these recent events give the appearance of a man that has succeeded in obtaining the best life has to offer. Underneath his warm smile and hyperactive performances, could there truly have been someone so sad? So defeated?
It’s anyone’s guess what lead him to this dark act. All we can do is speculate now. There are a few signs that may suggest turmoil in Williams’ life. His Icon Award speech wasn’t all happy nostalgia, he also talked about how much of a drag it was getting old.
“You start off doing comedy, it’s a long time ago, you have an open mic night, you sign up, you get on late at night and they give you three minutes. 37 years later I come on here I get this(award) and three minutes. Thank you, fuck off.”
Perhaps he felt the highlight of his career was behind him. There was nothing left for him to do or maybe there were things he still wanted to do but he didn’t have the same opportunities anymore. I imagine one of the most devastating things to happen to a comedian is for people to stop listening. What’s there to say if no one is around to hear it? Or maybe he had always felt flawed in some way. What looked like well-deserved success to us may have been dumb luck to him as suggested by his stubbornly modest tone at the Comedy Awards. Maybe we’re completely off the mark and it’s because of something totally different-some personal life struggle that we may never know. All we know for sure is Robin Williams deceived us. He hid his true feelings under a loud siege of explosive humor and tumultuous laughter. He wore a mask for our own good, but in total disregard for his. And on August 11, 2014, with cuts on his wrists and a belt worn around his neck, the darkness got the best of him.
How do you interpret this sad news?