Robin Williams, Genie you’re free



Courtesy of MCT Campus

by Erin Stewart & Madeline Sheehy , Editor & Reporter

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” – Robin Williams

Actor and comedian Robin Williams died at the age of 63 on August 11th. Marin County’s assistant chief deputy coroner, Keith Boyd, told a news conference that their official preliminary cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging. Williams’s family, friends and fans across the world were very devastated after hearing the news of his death.

Robin Williams starred in many blockbuster films such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. On the big screen Williams portrayed funny, happy and empowering characters; however, fans were unaware of his daily internal struggles.  One of the world’s funniest men, and seemingly most joyful personalities, was facing a dangerous disease that impacts nearly 1 in 10 adults in the United States, depression.

            “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” – Robin Williams

Depression affects any age, but a lot of it hits in the teen years. Major depression, according to the National Library of Medicine, is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer.

According to LHS counselor Renata Emery, “Depression in high schools is more common than people know; a lot of people suffer from anxiety which goes along with depression. A lot of that comes from pressure put on students by outside of school issues.”

With the start of the school year many students find themselves anxious about grades, sports, and social acceptance.

“They are always upping the ante of the curriculum even at younger and younger ages, like now you can come to middle school with high school credits. Parents put a lot of pressure on their kids to really do well and a lot of kids put pressure on themselves. It’s a whole atmosphere of taking the toughest classes and maintaining A’s,” Emery said. “As a counselor, I feel like you should take the tough classes, and if you’re getting A’s, Hooray! But if you’re getting B’s, you’re still doing very well.”

According to Jen Newman at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in 2013, 39,581 suicide deaths were reported in the United States, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. Suicide is especially common among young people; it is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-24. Each day in this country, there are over 5,400 attempts by people grades 7-12. At least 90% of all people who died by suicide were suffering from a mental illness at the time, most often depression. People who are impulsive or use alcohol and drugs are also at a high risk for suicide. The hotline number is 1-800-273-TALK.

            “Kid… If you need booze and drugs to enjoy your life to the fullest, then you’re doing it wrong.” –Robin Williams

According to IBtimes, Robin Williams struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol beginning in the 1980’s. Saturday Night Live comedian, John Belushi’s death was a wakeup call for Williams, who quit “cold turkey” after the incident. In 2006 Williams relapsed and checked into rehab, where he was treated for alcohol addiction. In early July of 2014, Williams checked back into rehab again, stating that the treatment he received this time was only “precautionary.”

Despite the horrible way he died, Robin Williams will always be remembered as a happy, funny, easy going guy. Senior Taylor Strahan enjoys a lot of his movies, but her favorite is Mrs. Doubtfire.

“I haven’t watched many of his movies, but the ones I did watch were about family. He taught me to appreciate your family. In Mrs. Doubtfire he played a dad who was taken from his kids through divorce. He wanted to see his kids so he went through extreme measures to do that. I can relate because my parents are divorced, and although I can see my dad whenever I would like, I know that if something were to change, he would do whatever it took to make sure he saw me,” said Strahan.

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Robin Williams is funny. Most of the movies he was in and even the appearances he made on shows such as Saturday Night Live, he was making people laugh even though he was sad,” Strahan added.

Similar to Strahan, Senior Ryan Beckwith also thinks of Williams as a funny man.  “Patch Adams is my favorite Robin Williams movie because the idea of being a fun doctor to comfort kids with terminal illness made it a great story and he was really funny when he made the kids laugh,” Beckwith said.

“Robin Williams’ death showed me that everyone, whether it be a close friend or a celebrity, is hiding a secret. It shows that the people with the biggest smiles are the ones that are the most sad,” Beckwith concluded.

“If heaven exists, to know that there’s laughter, that would be a great thing.” – Robin Williams

If you are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, there are supports available to you: