Robin Williams’ Suicide — as if we knew anything about it …
Reactions to Robin Williams’ death are reminding me of what happens in the aftermath of a school shooting.
Apparently, we’re all now going to spend four or five days being experts about suicide and depression—before we forget about them entirely. Again.
Meanwhile, members of the media a) wring their hands and talk about “tragedy,” just as if they still worked in a serious profession; b) spew a lot of smug, trite, pop-psych platitudes about mental health; c) have working-for-free summer interns google until their hands bleed in order to compile “listicles” of the “10 gifs that perfectly sum up Robin Williams’ career” (be ashamed of yourself if you’ve read beyond the headline on any one of these pieces of garbage); and d) allow self-appointed pundits to have a field day basically making shit up about what causes people to commit suicide.
If anybody knew an easy fix for depression, there would be effective treatment for it, and the World Health Organization wouldn’t call it the leading cause of disability in the world. If we really knew how to prevent suicide, there wouldn’t be 30,000 completed suicides each year in the U.S. alone. It wouldn’t be the third leading cause of death among young people and the eleventh overall.
If we thought suicide-prevention hotlines were important, we’d fund them so there were actually enough trained operators to respond to the number of calls that come in. If we were convinced therapy and antidepressants were the answer, we wouldn’t make them so expensive that the vast majority of Americans can’t even consider such options (never mind the rest of the world).
Over the last 72 hours, instead, I’ve witnessed an avalanche of ignorant, offensive, idiotic comments about suicide and depression—much of it, I can only assume, from people who’ve never experienced depression or lost someone to suicide. (Yeah, I’m looking at you Shepard Smith, you sad little closet case.)
But please, feel free to stop me if I sound bitter.