Early reports of Robin Williams’s death say that everyone knew he was struggling with depression before he killed himself. A natural and common reaction in this situation is, “Someone should have done something.” Someone who knew that he was depressed should have helped him so that he did not kill himself. Especially because he was rich and not obviously struggling with problems like a physical disease, people often think that if his friends and family had helped him, then he would be alive.
Severe depression can be just as disabling as broken legs, frequent seizures, or many other diseases. Like any other disease, money, access to health care, and a support network of friends are major advantages. If Robin Williams, who likely had all of the advantages a person can have, was killed by his depression, then no one has an excuse to dismiss depression as “all in a person’s head.”
Sadly, I doubt attitudes will improve after his death. I do not think the world will change its perspective of mental health, and I do not think that more people in my life will suddenly understand the severity of my problems. I receive help from a few people, and without them I would be–I do not know what things would be like. It seems likely I would be dead. I mean, I am down to one pair of underwear. I have been unemployed for four-and-one-half years: every area of my life has been affected by attrition. If I cannot afford simple things like underwear, I am not sure why anyone would think I can afford other things. I also do not understand why anyone thinks I would choose this life if other options were available to me.
When I was a prosecutor, here is how I described why my job was so fulfilling: “Sometimes, when people speak of bad events that might have been prevented, they will say, ‘Someone should have done something.’ As a prosecutor, I have the tools to be that ‘someone’ who does ‘something’ to make our county a better place to live.”
I wish more people would be willing to be the “someone” who does something. I wish I could have the opportunity to heal so that I can again be that “someone.”