25 thoughts on “Robin Williams, 1951-2014

  1. People in Boulder still call that nice house on Pine Street the Mork and Mindy House more than 35 years later.

    Sad day for the poor family who will second guess what they might have done even though they did all they could.

    A grim thought: who will be the first conservative blogger to say something snarky? Has probably already happened; keep an eye on Ann Coulter for the next couple of days.

  2. It’s sad…I heard that he was battling a drug and alcohol problem and was in depression. I’ve had my episodes with similar problems so I can somewhat understand the pain. It’s such a shame. He had a quick and creative mind that I always enjoyed listening to.
    Rest in Peace, Robin. You were one of a kind.

  3. ” If there’s a comedy heaven, its headliner finally showed. But he won’t shut the fuck up.”

    By Dennis Hartley
    on Digby

  4. I preferred his serious roles like Good Will Hunting and The World According to Garp. His strait man performance to Nathan Lane in The Birdcage was classic. I don’t know how many other great comedians would have stepped aside and let a relatively unknown movie actor steal the show. Still a movie I watch when I can catch it somewhere. Watched it with my wife a few days before we had our first son. I used to stay-up to watch Mork and Mindy. I still remember the scene when he finally discovered what Christmas was really about. He will be missed.

  5. He left such an impression that I can still vividly remember the night in 1978 when I first saw him on the teevee… the night Richie Cunningham answered his door and there stood Mork. What a deranged half-hour; I’d never laughed so hard before. “I don’t know who that guy is, but he’s gonna be a huge star.”

    I hope there is peace for him now. We won’t forget him.

  6. Back before psychotherapy, a man walked into the doctors office in town, and told him that he was a visitor in town, and was very unhappy, and always had suicidal thoughts. Was there something the doctor could do, or give him?

    The doctor said, “Laughter is often the best medicine, and makes on forget ones troubles and woes. And you, my friend, have the good fortune to be in town when that great magician and comedian, Garibaldi is in town. Go to see him to take you mind off of things for a few hours, and then come back tomorrow, and see if your outlook hasn’t improved after all his wonderful tricks and jokes!”
    And the man said, “But doctor, I AM Garibaldi!”

  7. “But doctor, I AM Garibaldi!”

    That’s a good one Gulag, apparently Williams had nothing left to turn to? Lots of people cope with depression some can’t. Suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness, I feel bad for his children.

  8. I can understand that the people who were close to a depressed person who committed suicide can feel that it was a selfish act. And I can see that, from the outside, depression seems to be a matter of coping.

    But having some experience with depression, saying that a depressed person’s suicide is an act of selfishness is as odd to me as saying that dying of cancer is an act of selfishness. Saying that some people can cope with depression makes as much sense to me as saying some people can cope with heart disease.

    The man apparently died from a disease that can be fatal. Men of his age are particularly susceptible. It is a disease that is also stigmatized, usually by attributing it to a character flaw. The stigmatization results in some people not seeking treatment.

  9. Sometimes people get angry at folks who commit suicide. They get furious and bitter and *nasty*. And I get a bit of that today.

    I wasn’t a friend of Robin Williams, I was no one to him, but I still feel a bit of “god damn it, man, I’d have stayed by your side, through the darkest of night, fighting all the demons of hell, if that’s what it took to keep you with us! Why didn’t you give one of the millions of us who would have a *chance* to do that!”

    And I know the answer. When you’re that far down, you can’t imagine it would help. All you see is darkness, and you don’t remember the light.

    The rage is not really at him, but at the world, at the universe, that we’re never there; or that all we can do, the best that we can do, is sometimes just not enough; or that the fight is over, and lost before we have a chance to take our stand.

    It’s not fair.

    But it’s the only world we have, and we must all shine a bit brighter today, to make up for a great loss to the darkness.

    • As someone who has struggled with clinical depression pretty much always — I am now and forever on meds — I know how hard it is and how hard it is to ask for help. The disease itself comes with a feeling of terrible isolation. And the truth is the world doesn’t cut you any slack for depression. If you were bleeding you’d get sympathy. If you had lost your best friend you’d get sympathy. If you’re depressed you’re told to pull yourself together and get on with things, or worse, ordered to smile! or cheer up! You get that sometimes even from the psychiatric profession. And if you are especially good at acting like nothing is wrong — and I suspect Williams was — even people close to you may not realize how desperately awful you really feel.

      There’s a huge amount of ignorance out there about this condition. This includes large numbers of people who are certain there is no such disease, or if there is it’s just a matter of feeling sad (anti-depressant commercials don’t help). There are people who are certain anti-depressant medications are a scam perpetrated by Big Pharma, and that they’re the real cause of mass murders, and they must be banned. And in fact the meds don’t help everybody, but they do help some people.

      But perhaps this is a teachable moment. If it is confirmed that Williams was depressed I may write more about this.

  10. “as much sense to me as saying some people can cope with heart disease”

    Cope was the wrong word, I should have said “live with”? Lots of people live with heart disease and or depression. Of course whether one can survive either depends on lots of factors, some under our control some not. I didn’t know Mr. Williams it seems obvious he felt he had no choice? My comment was not intended to stigmatize him or anyone else. From the perspective of someone that is left to deal with a loved one’s suicide it is a selfish act that hopefully can be forgiven in time.

  11. The description of the death scene raises doubts about suicidal intent. He was found seated with a belt around his neck with the other end secured to a door. Asphyxia by misadventure cannot be ruled out. Although it occurs mostly in children and adolescents, unintentional asphyxia can occur when the person is seeking a euphoric state through temporary cerebral hypoxia. If he had been trying to break out of a depressive state and lost consciousness prior to being able to lean back and loose the ligature, that would create an entirely new narrative about what happened.

  12. It is very hard to know anything here, but the description on the radio and news websites sounds as if he was in some sort of sitting position with a belt secured to a door behind him.

    If there was a note indicating clear suicidal intent, that settles the question one way. In the absence of a note (they have not said anything on this point), it could have been a desperate attempt to break out of depression without using drugs; the attraction of the “choking game” for kids is that it induces a short euphoric state. I think that Carradine was thought to be trying for an autoerotic state; that is not the sole reason someone may try to alter consciousness through brief cerebral hypoxia.

    It is not a suicide until the medical examiner says it is a suicide. I am staying tuned until either a note or some other unambiguous expression of an intention to die is produced.

    • Ed — at least news story I saw said he hanged himself from the ceiling, which suggests he meant it. It’ll probably take a few days to get it all sorted out.

  13. The report I heard had him appearing to be seated, with the belt wedged between a door frame and a closet, or something like that. It will take some time to sort out.

    However, my question from last night appears to have an answer; Limbaugh said something snarkly about this being left-wing politics in action. He may have been preceded by someone else for all I know.

  14. “left-wing politics in action”

    Well of course, it’s obvious Williams decided to off himself to distract from, ISIS, syria, IRS, Ben Gazi, IRS! Or maybe Obama has him hidden somewhere in Kenya?

  15. What Limbaugh said was it was his liberal lifestyle that caused him to commit suicide. Don’t think he has a qualifications for such a diagnosis.

  16. Herm. Ed, I’ve lived with depression a long time. Neither of us know the facts, I’ll grant you that, but the idea that he might have been seeking a rush to break out of a depressed state just doesn’t sound like depression, at all.

    I’m not him, but I would really, really find it strange. People who are deep in the pit just don’t tend to think “maybe this will help”. That’s one of the primary symptoms of depression, anhedonia – either inability to feel pleasure, or a sense that nothing will bring pleasure (but if you find yourself in the middle of something happy, maybe you can enjoy yourself).

    I’d be glad to admit I was wrong – hell, I’d be glad to *be* wrong. I’d *much* rather he’d died accidentally. But it really doesn’t sound likely to me.

    • News stories today are all calling the death a suicide, not an accident, so apparently that’s been settled. I agree that attempting to use hypoxia to get relief from depression doesn’t sound like something a depressed person would do.

  17. Could be wishful thinking for something that would give the family a measure of comfort if it turned out that he was trying to find a way to get back to where he could be present for them. I would assume that they will look at his computer to see what he was googling in the past few days. That could shed light on the likely intent.

    There is no way that he had unipolar depression; if he had some form of the bipolar spectrum he could well have been trying to recapture a euphoric state (something that you may well try to do when you have memories of having felt so very high). I agree that anhedonia will block off any hope for recapturing anything positive, but manic-depressives often do the darndest things to get back that magical state when everything felt so extremely good.

    Perhaps there will be clues on his computer. Perhaps not.

    • “There is no way that he had unipolar depression” — Oh, he could have had some depression all along and kept it hidden. It’s possible his comedic energy flowed from coping with depression.

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