You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who was not affected in some way by the sudden death of Robin Williams. He contributed so much to the world around him through his comedy and his giving nature, that it’s hard to believe his death was a suicide. Nothing about suicide is easy to handle, but it’s even harder to comprehend when the victim is a comedic icon like Robin Williams. He lived his life to make other people laugh, and he was one of the best in the business.
The Makings of “The Funniest Man Alive”
Robin Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 21, 1951. With a working mother and “frightening” father, Williams was raised by the maids his parents provided. He was voted “Most Likely Not to Succeed” and “Funniest” by his senior high school classmates before first attending Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, and later Juilliard School in New York City. He left Juilliard during his junior year after being told, “There’s just nothing more we can teach you. So you should go out and work.” And he didn’t disappoint.
Williams became a household name thanks to his role on the TV series Mork & Mindy, which became the foundation of his successful comedy and film career. He went on to star in movies like, Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), and gave an Oscar-winning performance in Good Will Hunting in 1997. He was the grown-up Peter Pan in Hook in 1991 and leant his voice to The Genie in Aladdin in 1992, giving a new generation of actors something to aspire to. Williams left behind a legacy of acting genius that to this day is hard to match.
Hiding the Hurt
It’s so difficult to think about the fact that a person who was dubbed “The Funniest Man Alive” would suddenly take his own life. But the sad truth of the matter is that this is not as uncommon as most of us like to think. Depression is not characterized solely by a melancholy attitude. People who struggle daily with depression are often those people who are the life of the party. They are outgoing, agreeable, and generally seem happy. But this can all be a mask; the agreeable personality could be a way to cover up the overwhelming feeling of sadness that a person has. We as parents, teachers, or friends often never think twice about depression hiding behind a smile. Depression can be a disease, but with many adolescents, depression can be brought on by a hostile environment. Bullying, more often than not, can lead a child into a deep depression. However, bullies themselves are often bullying because of depression. Learning how to express emotions in a safe environment is vitally important.
The best way to stop depression is to catch it early. Talk to your kids. Look for signs of emotional exhaustion, fits of rage, or a feeling of being overwhelmed. Depression doesn’t always look like the stereotypical mopey, sullen teenager. It’s very often meticulously hidden deep within an Oscar-worthy façade.