Pubdate: Wed, 20 Aug 2014
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Copyright: 2014 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock
Author: Valerie Vande Panne


Last week, there was a disturbance in the Force: The world lost a
great giver of light, Robin Williams.

The sky above metro Detroit, where Williams spent his childhood,
seemed to know this loss intimately, and flooded the region. The wake
of the event still ripples throughout the world, and there are
tributes to Williams around the globe. From the theaters on Broadway
to Syrian rebels to planning the next Emmy awards, people are honoring
the actor ... fans are even demanding a character be created in the
video game "Legend of Zelda."

There was also the ripple of anger, as often follows a tremendous,
inexplicable loss: How dare he take his life? How dare he rob the
world of the joy he brought to us? Suicide is so selfish. Didn't he
know how much he was loved? How could he suffer more than others
who've been through tremendous poverty and war?

And of course the question: Why?

In the search for answers, those who suffer from crippling depression
were quick to jump to his defense against those who called him
"selfish," using what boils down to a "you just don't understand
unless you've been there." Both are understandable, yet segregating,

Then came the news that Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson's
Disease. Reports came in that the disease played a role in his suicide
- - that he was depressed as a result of the diagnosis, that the disease
can cause depression, and that Williams was on a "cocktail" of meds,
"which was a work in progress to get right - [and] also had a negative
effect on his emotional state."

In the desire to answer the why of the tragedy, Williams' friends have
pointed to that "cocktail" of meds. Selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Lexapro, Paxil, and Zoloft, used to treat
anxiety and depression, are known to have a side effect of suicidal
thoughts, especially in those under 25. Reports have said that while
he was suffering from severe depression, just hours before his death
he had a meeting where he planned out future activities, and seemed
hopeful - not the common action of someone planning, or on the verge
of, a suicide. Williams was known to have been battling depression for
years. Could it have been the drugs that pushed him into suicide?
Certainly, they do help many people. But not all.

We may never know why Robin Williams killed himself. Perhaps the why,
at this point, isn't important. Perhaps, in our collective society's
loss, we can take this as an opportunity to expand the national and
community dialogue about mental health and treatment - the last gift
from a man known for bringing happiness is one that has given us deep
need for understanding.

This is the opportunity to have compassion and reach outside of our
selves to our fellow humans and let them know we love them and care
for them. Male depression is now in the spotlight, and the
conversation about suicide and depression and anxiety treatments are
now a part of a global dialogue. We must take great care to
thoughtfully listen, and to understand each other at this time; to
appreciate each other as we reconcile the suicide of Robin Williams
with our own mental health experience, and the experience of our nation.

Robin Williams has left the world's stage we all share. Let us lift
him higher with our affection and the joy he brought us, and through
that, lift ourselves and with compassion, rise with our loved ones and
our communities. - mt  
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D