Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters were two comedians that I got and loved in ways I've not connected with other comedians. Since I started taking Improv classes and thinking about Improv - they've meant more to me.
Losing Williams to depression and suicide is shocking. All day long I've teared up at news stories and random comments I've heard in my office. I cannot imagine how Williams' friends and family feel at this news.
It seems crazy to be so devestated by the suicide of a person you never knew.
Someone at work said "suicide is a selfish act." That line used to get a lot of traction but the more you learn about mental illness (and if you've ever been clinically depressed) you know that's not it. Normal people don't understand. When you are that depressed (and being bi-polar means your lows are unfathomably low) there is no logic. There is just the desire to sleep and to not be present because it hurts too much.
People have put up tips for talking about suicide (don't glorify it) and hotline numbers - but suicide isn't important just because someone famous took their life. Every day people make that choice - but we don't know them or get to talk about them in the same way. We need to remember that under the cover of a person's life - there can be darkness and depression. We need to watch and listen to those in our lives.
I watched a HBO special that Robin taped in DC 8 years ago tonight and it made me laugh. He was amazing...lighting fast and someone who noticed everything and talked about it. His alcoholism - his drug use - rehab - those were topics he faced and spoke about. But under all that - off stage - he was a shy person and someone who was very supportive and giving of other comics. I've read people talk about him and how they knew him and it seems that although he was loved by many - few knew him.
I'm sure he had help and that his family knew of his struggles. And I can't imagine the thoughts going through their mind - what could I have done - why didn't I do x or y or z. I hate to think of the pain he was in. I hate to hear people judge him and how his life ended. It's not fair. It's not the best of him.
So I remember the stand up and the films and the tv shows and Carson and Letterman and all of the moments he made me laugh and made others laugh.
He was a roman candle that burnt out too soon...but the show was incredible while it lasted.