Monday, 18 August 2014

Too Harsh - or Too Soon?

My brother linked to my previous post on Ricochet, and I only just worked this out ...

So anyway, I went and dutifully read the comments, in light of the recent news that Robin Williams had early-stage Parkinson's, and that this may have been a factor in his decision to commit suicide.

Point One: The 'bipolar genius' crowd can just pipe down for a second. Williams appears to have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder reasonably late in life - after years of cocaine and alcohol abuse. I am no clinician, but even I know that drug and alcohol abuse can lead to bipolar-style disorders. Especially cocaine, which is like dropping Alka-Seltzer into the brain. So Robin Williams' celebrated 'curse' of 'bipolar genius' may have been caused by his own freely-chosen recreational behaviours.

Point Two: Way to slap the Parkinson's groups in the face. No wonder Michael J Fox was so surprised - there's nothing like killing yourself to say to someone, 'Your life as a person with Parkinson's is so appalling, I'd rather be dead.'

Don't get me wrong. I feel terribly, terribly sorry for Williams. I thought he could be hugely funny. I also knew he could act seriously. He is in one of my favourite movies, The Fisher King. (Mind you, I'd still love this movie even if it had someone else playing Perry, because it's a Terry Gilliam movie with my kind of themes.)

It now turns out that he was also someone who spent his whole life running away from things, and/or who didn't have the kind of love in his life that gave him the courage to face the future with a long-term illness.

But I feel more sorry for his family, because they will now have to live - for the rest of their lives - with the awful trauma and damage done to a family by a suicide.

I wish people would think about this more often, rather than glamorising celebrity suicides. Try calling Lifeline instead? 13 11 14.

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