LIke many people, I am deeply saddened by the death of Robin Williams. He brought joy to so many people; its a genuine loss. What touched most people was not just his humor, but his humanity. I enjoyed his films, and his humor. I may not have approved of everything he did or said, but he was a kind, gentle person, and we as a society have been better off for his presence in it.
One of the things I have observed with dismay, has been the people leveling criticism of Robin because he chose to end his life. One commentator called him a coward. Others were just as unkind. What comments like that tell me is that they don’t understand the first thing about people who contemplate suicide. They act as if they vilify suicide and those who commit it, they are somehow teaching others not to do it. It really doesn’t help.
People who commit suicide, for the most part, are not cowards. Suicide happens most often, when a person’s pain exceeds their ability and resources to cope with their pain. People who poo-poo emotional pain have never experienced the depths it can go. I really can’t describe it, but there is an emotional pain that can hurt worse than any physical pain. When a person experiences ongoing pain like that, taking a tylenol won’t bring relief. Nothing does. When you go through that kind of pain, all you want to do is end the pain. Its at that point that suicide looks like a good option. I’m not saying its a good option, its not. But it can be tempting because all you want to do is stop the pain. You can be fine one moment, and then think, if I did this or that, the pain will all be over.
Many people with terminal illnesses who want to end their lives because of the pain seek euthanasia. While this is not encouraged, people do understand it. People who are in excruciating emotional pain find themselves wanting to do the same. The difference is that there are meds that can help, and along with therapy, a person can move beyond the pain. Depression is not terminal. It can and should be treated. In any case, a person who is overcome with unbearable pain should be looked upon with compassion and empathy, not vilified and condemned. Reaching out to someone in pain, and helping them get help can save their life. Criticizing and condemning people in pain is cruel. Such heartlessness is a sin.