Robin Williams Selfish for Suicide?

Robin Williams

While many people are pouring out their condolences and sympathies after hearing of the death of Robin Williams, some have attacked him for being selfish for committing suicide. It happens all the time. There is always someone who likes to post something negative.

However, there will be people out there with the same view—and they will just not have the confidence to state it publicly online. Many carry the view of suicide being a selfish act, especially when it happens under the circumstances surrounding Williams. It is often seen as the easy way out for people to avoid dealing with the problems that they are battling with.

There is a view that it is the friends and family members who have to pick up the pieces afterwards. While the man who killed himself has escaped his problems, the friends and family members deal with the loss and grief that comes from that. The 63-year-old actor left behind a wife and children who will have to say goodbye to him sooner than they ever expected.

Another side of it is that life insurance policies do not pay out for suicide in most cases. While the actor’s family will not likely struggle financially, there are plenty of people who do kill themselves and leave their families in extremely difficult financial positions. Money is often one of the reasons for individuals to commit suicide so that they can escape their problems, but it causes further problems for the people around them.

This was certainly not the case for the Mork & Mindy actor. However, some will still view Williams as being selfish for committing suicide. He has still left people behind who will not grieve.

One thing to consider is the pain and darkness that he was going through. Depression still carries a stigma and only those who have been through it or work within that industry really understand just how difficult it can be. It is a vicious cycle too, as depression brings physical darkness and that affects the mood negatively.

If all the information is true, it is unlikely that Williams was in a position to consider how his actions would affect others. He may have even thought that doing this was better for his family. They would no longer suffer from his alcoholism or drug abuse and he would not hurt people with his words.

It seems like he had tried to fight his depression. At the start of July he was in rehab. While his representatives said that he was there to refocus on his career, it seems now like he was there to battle his mental health issues. He tried to get help but on this occasion it just does not seem to have worked.

Rather than attacking someone for their decisions, it would be better for people to support those who have lost a husband, father, son and friend. Unfortunately, that is not the way that the world works. There are some that just seem to like to take the high road, which has been the case for some of those who claim Williams was selfish for committing suicide.

Opinion by Alexandria Ingham



14 Responses to "Robin Williams Selfish for Suicide?"

  1. Fern Remedi-Brown   August 20, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Azri’el Collier, I respectfully disagree with your opinion. As the survivor of a family member who died by suicide, I have never thought that my brother acted selfishly, but that he could not see any way out, or he would have done so. Please read my article, in which I reference Alexandria Ingham’s brilliant article (above), and detail more of my thoughts, which have, in fact, aided my healing:
    Suicide and the Question Why: A Survivor’s Perspective,

    • Alexandria Ingham   August 21, 2014 at 3:38 am

      Thanks for referencing the article, Fern. I really appreciate that. I’m sorry to hear that you have been through losing someone because of their depression.

  2. Azri'el Collier   August 16, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Having worked in suicide prevention and as an emt dealing with suicidal people, it is a selfish act. A desperate selfish act. It is their way of punishing others. and what does not help is that they get placed on anti depressants where, when you read the fine print at the bottom of the long tiny print sheet, they tell you that persons on those drugs will have suicidal thoughts and may commit suicide. Rather than mental health professionals ACTUALLY help the person deal with their emotional issues, they instead love their kick backs for prescribing the drugs that they KNOW will not work and are not an even temporary answer. Mr. Williams needed guidance in how to deal with his emotions, not drugs and pseudo alleged “therapy” which is proving over and over again to not work and all too many of the patients end up dead. Interesting to note that the preferred method of suicide of patients on psychoactive drugs is either overdose or hanging. Some also decide to take others out with them and go on shooting sprees. And then there are the really small, but growing numbers, who do suicide by cop. That is, present an instance whereby the cop shoots them. Up until the late 50s, there was never diagnosed any such thing as chronic depression. But then these new drugs came out for which there was no real market for them and all the sudden, 1 out of 5 is clinically depressed and NEED these drugs. And along with the prescription of these drugs, the suicide rate increased by over 300% in the past 25 years alone.
    Sorry Mr. Williams, you were lied to and now we see the end result of the lies you were told. RIP Robin Williams.

  3. Di   August 16, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Depression is an illness, just like any other potentially life-threatening disease. Sometimes it can be controlled, even cured, but sometimes, no matter what the person does to combat it, depression can take over and overwhelm the individual so aggressively that they cannot see any way out other than suicide. It is never a selfish decision…when one reaches the point that they are contemplating ending their life, the pain is so severe that all they can see, or feel, is the unrelenting anguish. And very often the person believes that what they are doing will help their family and friends. They feel like a burden, their thoughts are clouded with pain, and they truly do believe that in order to help not only themselves, but also everyone around them, is to no longer exist. Anyone who states that a person who has committed suicide is selfish really has no clue as to the enormity and immense depth of the pain and guilt that a suicidal person carries, often for many years before actually committing the act.

  4. Bill in NC   August 15, 2014 at 6:04 am

    “Another side of it is that life insurance policies do not pay out for suicide in most cases.”

    Life insurance policies in the U.S. do pay out (after 2 years) even for suicide.

    He remarried nearly 3 years ago & likely took out a multi-million dollar policy at that time with his new wife the beneficiary (from other sources we know he was savvy about estate planning, already having setup individual trusts for his kids)

  5. David Bentick   August 14, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    After battling depression on and off for the past 8 years, I can understand why Mr Williams took his life… Know one would ever say to a heart attack or stroke victim to stop having a heart attack and tell them to pull their selves out of it… depression should be treated no differently, it is a disease just like cancer, if a person has a brain tumour that is slowly killing them and taking every piece of their persona away, we would never expect them to pull out of it, it would be ignorant for us to think they could.
    So why should depression be treated any differently, you’re not fighting a mind altering tumour you’re fighting a mind altering chemical.

    Also depression coupled with anxiety is a soul destroying experience that I can’t explain, only someone who has experienced this could understand.

    I have never been so deeply upset as I’am since I heard the News.

    RIP Robin, the world has lost a beautiful soul and we still needed you here, if only.

  6. Pauline   August 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    What a tragedy that he could not reach out to family or friends. The pain and grief that he has caused those around him is insurmountably catastrophic. He had been fighting addiction for years and that may have been a deciding factor. Addiction not only worsens depression but it also makes it easier to believe that no one really cares. You will be lovingly missed by all.

  7. Kay   August 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Is it selfish to die of diabetes or cancer? Like depression, these are diseases that have genetic as well as behavioral components. One can’t guarantee never to have the condition, but one can take steps to stay as healthy as possible. Sometimes the disease gets “brittle” fast and one wrong step can lead to death. Serious mental illness is dangerous, especially bipolar with the suicidal complication (read Kay Jamison, at Hopkins). With depression you have a chronic disease. You will die with it, and sometimes you will die from it. We need better treatments and haven’t had new breakthroughs for most mental illness for 30 years since Prozac.

  8. Gregory Baskin   August 12, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I wish people would actually read an article before commenting on it. It’s part of something known as “common courtesy.”

    • rachael   August 16, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Read it, comprehended it… Still this person should not be working with these ppl..

  9. Jenn Castaldo   August 12, 2014 at 11:45 am

    That is horrible thing to say. People who do not understand Depression ought to shut their mouths and read up on it before they decide to say something like IT’S SELFISH….
    I know people who suffer from it and from my second hand knowledge of it- it’s a horrible disease and it doesn’t matter how famous you are, how much money you have, how great others think your life is… It can take all their will power just to get through a single day…..

  10. Goldie Michaels   August 12, 2014 at 4:23 am

    It’s tragic that Robin Williams is gone, as he was an incredibly talented actor who could traverse comedy and drama and all genres in film. But suicide is the most selfish act a human being can commit, rivaled only by homicide. And Robin Williams committed that act, despite leaving a wife and three adult children wondering why.

    Robin Williams Entertaining US Troops in Iraq
    Yes, it is true that Williams was mentally ill and apparently sought help for depression. But he had everything in the world compared to most Americans, and everything in the world to live for. Born into a wealthy family, he attended Detroit Country Day School, the most prestigious (and expensive) private school in Michigan. He had incredible wealth and fame, incredible talent, and a lifetime of terrific acting in plum roles. But we coddle those who say they are mentally ill or have depression. In the good old days of America, people didn’t have time to check into rehab and take psychotropic drugs and contemplate their “woe is me” lives in Hollywood mansions. They had to struggle to survive and support their families. And I’ll bet the suicide rate was significantly lower (along with the narcissism rate). Just because someone is “depressed,” doesn’t mean it’s an excuse for checking out forever. We treat it as if it is, as if this selfish act cannot be condemned and we must automatically condone the action once the “D”-word is uttered. And he willingly chose to use and abuse drugs, which probably led to his depression and other mental issues.

  11. Pat Mallon   August 12, 2014 at 3:59 am

    RIP, Robin. You were a joy to watch and your talent will be missed.

  12. Jérôme Nicole   August 12, 2014 at 3:12 am

    I love your article and opinion his death and on suicide in general. Thanks for sharing it. RIP Robin Williams.


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