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Was Robin Williams suicide an act of cowardice or bravery?

Mahatma Gandhi once said “If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.” Ironically comedian Robin Williams was full of jokes and recently decided to commit suicide. A stellar comedian Robin Williams won many accolades and starred in many roles ranging from humorous and serious. According to wiki he received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards. He death has left many unanswered questions and suicide is a topic with great emotional attachment analogous to war. It appears Robin Williams was waging an internal battle with himself. Rarely is the opinion of suicide neutral particularly in some religious circles. Suicide has been deemed by some as a sin. Metaphysically sin is defined as missing the mark or error thinking. Once someone has committed suicide there are so many questions and so few answers. The media portrays Robin Williams as compassionate but unable to overcome depression and addictions to drugs and alcohol. I consider drug addiction and alcoholism as slower forms of suicide. Many of his colleagues have come forward to speak of his many talents, disbelieving the decision he made to take his own life.

Robin Williams suicide a tragedy
Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

Was the suicide of Robin Williams an act of bravery?

His wife has recently made a statement regarding a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. I remember when my late father was diagnosed with Parkinson's, while attempting to balance his check book he became quite distraught. As he tried to sign the ledger his hand trembled, I pretended not to notice but then he threw the pen across the room in a fit of rage, with tears in his eyes he said, "I...I can't do this". My heart sank as I watched the strongest man I knew.. weep, vulnerable seemingly terrified and very afraid. I recognize that while my father did not commit suicide, that day was the beginning of the end. It was a slow emotional and very painful ending. Perhaps Robin Williams simply could not bear the pain.

In the lines from How to Kill a Rock Star, Tiffanie DeBartolo:

“Did you really want to die?"
"No one commits suicide because they want to die."
"Then why do they do it?"
"Because they want to stop the pain.”

There is no doubt Robin Williams was in pain. The stories of his depression and addiction are current topics for public discussion. In at least one culture suicide is an act of bravery.
History records the ceremonial suicide of hara-kari or seppuku performed by inserting a dagger in the abdomen when disgraced or sentenced to death. This was an act of honor performed by the Samurai with no other option. Perhaps Robin Williams saw no other option. Parkinson's is a tough illness and the combination of everything including the reports of financial woes could have be considered disgraceful. Would that be enough to justify the suicide of Robin Williams? Could he be considered a brave warrior. I would hope so. A man that made millions laugh and love deserves to be pain free. Robin Williams gave us a reason to laugh about so many subjects like the war in Vietnam in Good morning Vietnam. Robin Williams had us consider the possibility of friendly not frightening aliens in Mork and Mindy and he dared us to love, not fear cross dressing men in Mrs. Doubtfire. No coward could accomplish such a great feat as inducing laughter where there is so much fear.

Laughter soothes the soul and Robin Williams lived his lifetime soothing souls. He is legendary and he was brave. May his soul be soothed.

“He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it.”
― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

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