A few years ago, I made a list of the celebrities whose deaths would most affect me. I was watching Bill Murray’s cameo in Zombieland and immediately questioned how devastating it would be to lose a brilliant man with such a zest for life. It prompted me to write the list. For what it is worth, Steve Martin was second.
Robin Williams also made the list but, admittedly, he was towards the bottom of it. I loved watching him in Happy Days and then Mork & Mindy. Even as a young kid, I loved him in Popeye and The World According to Garp. His performance in Dead Poets Society played a role in my decision to take A.P. English in high school and pursue a B.A. in English.
To this day, I am still not sure how his remake of The Birdcage is not universally acclaimed as one of the best comedies of the 1990s.
There was something remarkable and utterly captivating about Williams. He never ceased to amaze with his performances, whether they were the nonstop, coke-fueled comedic barrages of his youth or the darker, sobering performances (One Hour Photo, Death to Smoochy, Insomnia) of his later years.
In recent years, as the likes of Murray and Martin reinvented themselves by crashing parties and yucking it up on social media, Williams faded into the background and my fabricated connection with him diminished.
When the news of his death hit the internet, I crumbled. I sat there, staring blankly at the wall, drowning out everything around me and started to cry. Williams’ apparent suicide affected me — and countless others — as if it was an old friend from youth who died. It was the hardest the death of celebrity hit me since Kurt Cobain took his life when I was a teenager. Williams had that kind of lasting impact on you.
Why did it have to come to this? Why did a man who had boundless energy, a rapacious wit and infectious personality take his own life? How is it possible that nobody stepped in to help him when he was battling depression? His agent knew and was quick to let the public know. Undoubtedly, his friends and family must have known too.
As someone who knows firsthand the effects of severe depression, I know that it can be masqueraded to a certain point but, generally speaking, those closest to you typically know that something is wrong. Your mood becomes unusually erratic. You typically respond to situations differently. You are just not the same person all the time.
When it becomes too much to mask, the next option is to hide from others.
There has to be a line between respecting someone’s privacy and looking out for their own health. There has to be, right?
I just don’t know. Why? This fucking sucks. It flat out blows and I feel heartbroken for the poor man. Robin Williams deserved a better fate. He needed to know how much people loved him and the positive impact he had on so many people. I wish time travel was possible just so we could let Williams know this.
I implore you, for the sake of everyone you do not realize loves you, please reach out for help if you need it. If you know someone who needs help, please reach out to them. Something as simple as a smile or a hug could literally be the difference between life and death.