It’s a weird thing when a celebrity dies, especially a celebrity that you’ve seen and heard all of your life and you’ve been a fan of. One that you’ve become almost attached to. This week alone we’ve lost actress Lauren Bacall to a stroke, and comedian/actor Robin Williams to a tragic suicide. Sad losses for the industries, the fans, and of course the loved ones they left behind.
I’m a huge fan of Robin Williams – his stand-up, his films. He was lightening fast in interviews, even if it wasn’t actual words that came out of his mouth. He could make you laugh with a simple gesture, cry with a simple word, or cringe with a simple look. A comic genius by any standards, but an amazing actor as well; Oscar winning no less. As we’ve been increasingly told in the last few days all these accolades and comedic antics have hidden this well documented more turbulent personal life, and it’s this that the media seem to be concentrating on. It’s like they’re trying to turn him in to a poster boy for despair and death rather than a shining example of joy.
He’d struggled with depression all his life. His battles with alcohol and drug addictions are well documented. Check some of his stand-up, it’s their in the routines. He was an alcoholic, or has he described it “ethanol challenged”. He’d recently come out another stint in rehab, he was rumored to be having financial trouble, and the latest was that he was in the early stages of Parkinsons disease. Whatever the reasons, we of course cannot ignore what he went through in his life or what drove him to end it. Topics like this need to be addressed. I read earlier this week that suicide rates in British men under 35 is three times more likely than in women of the same age range; a shocking statistic which highlights the lack of resources towards helping people with mental health issues, certainly within the UK. Hopefully one thing we can take from a story such as Williams’ is that it can highlight that necessity for those resources.
No matter what we learn from the stories associated with Robin Williams, it is essential that we remember this was not all of the man; it was just a small part of a much greater story. It was not his whole life. A man has died, a family has been broken, and an amazing talent has gone.
So lets not ignore his problems, but also lets always remember everything else the great man was. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Robin Williams. May he rest in peace.