The unbelievable amount of heartwarming praise and tribute for Robin Williams since he passed away has been incredibly moving. I won’t go on about it, you’ve seen it. So many people were touched by his many many roles both on screen and off it.
But the trolls are always there, and in a case like this, they can do so much harm, real harm, without even realising it.
“How selfish to do that to his family.”
“He had everything, his life was perfect, he had nothing to be depressed about.”
Celebrity or not, those same old phrases keep coming back when referring to people who suffer from depression, especially when suicide or attempted suicide occurs. There have been a number of beautifully eloquant posts about the reality and seriousness of depression, and the dismissiveness of society in general when it comes to mental illness, even though it is so common. 1 person in 4 will suffer from depression at some point in their life. Count the people around you, if there are more than 4 of them, then there’s a chance it will affect one or more of you.
If that happens, don’t tell them to “snap out of it”. Don’t say that things aren’t really that bad and they just need to take a step back. Don’t compare their life to yours, don’t compare their feelings to yours. Acknowledge them. Help them if you can, real, constructive help like getting them to talk to a medical professional or to a counselling service. Give them a hug. Let them know that you see them and that you’re there for them. Depression makes you feel tiny, powerless and invisible, so acknowledgement helps. Do what you can, but don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t work. Some shadows are just too dark.