I wasn't going to post anything about the suicide of Robin Williams but after reading the disgusting comments of Shepard Smith, I can't help but speak out. Here's what he said following the news of Williams' death:
"One of the children he so loved, one of the children grieving tonight. Because their father killed himself in a fit of depression. It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they’re in their mid-20s, and they’re inspiring you, and exciting you, and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known. And yet, something inside you is so horrible or you’re such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it."
I am quaking in my (figurative) boots in anger after reading that. The thought that depression is a "fit" is completely ignorant and untrue and that kind of thinking is highly dangerous to someone going through it, especially coming from someone who has such a large stage to speak from. If you have never been there, let me tell you right now, you have absolutely zero room to judge a mentally ill person. It isn't a fit, phase, or simply not being cheerful, they are sick. They need help and people in their lives to be there for them no matter what. Yes, it's incredibly sad to see a life cut short because of suicide but that person is in no way, shape, or form a coward. They have struggled daily for months and years to simply survive. That person has fought with their own brain and lost. It's heartbreaking for everyone involved and calling someone a coward for succumbing to their illness make you the lowest of the low.
Yes, something inside him was so horrible he couldn't live with it. Does that make him a coward? Not in the slightest. It makes him an incredibly brave man who fought against himself daily. Depression warps you mind, period. It doesn't choose only the poor or the weak, it can target anybody and can make even the strongest person crumble to their knees in agony. If you know someone who is depressed, don't discount their pain as merely something they can get over, because they would get over it in a heartbeat if they could. Educate yourself and do everything you can to be there for that person. Depression consumes, distorts, and ruins lives because it's a disease. Telling someone with this disease to smile, cheer up, or move on is like telling a cancer patient to buck up and get over cancer. I recently had someone who I was meeting for the second time tell me "I looked up your blog and read what you have been through. You'd never know from meeting you!" I was flattered but that is one of the things that makes depression so dangerous. People assume you look happy so you must be happy. Make no mistake, depression looks like me, you, your friends, family, and neighbors.
If you suffer from depression, know that you aren't alone. I've been there, on the brink of giving up and I have lived with the pain and frustration that comes with being mentally ill. As dark as things get and as hopeless as you feel, there is hope and there is help. If you have no one personally in your life that is there for you, let me tell you that you aren't alone in this fight. I obviously have never met Robin Williams but I wept when I heard the news of his suicide. Not because the world lost a great actor and comedian but because he lost the fight against himself and I felt his pain.
If you are feeling like you can't take it anymore, you can contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at their website or by phone (1-800-273-8255) if you need to physically talk to someone.
Finally, if you have come out the other side of depression and suicidal thoughts, speak out about it. Share your experiences and be unashamed of what you have gone through. The stigma of mental illness has decreased over the years but remarks like Smith's make it apparent we have a long way to go. Sharing will only open the eyes of people around you. You are a SURVIVOR and should be damn proud of that.
Shepard Smith has since issued an apology saying:
“The last thing I would ever suggest about a man I know nothing about personally, is that he’s a coward, that goes against everything I am. If those words, I used so innocently, offended his family, from the bottom of my heart, I could not be more sorry.”
Unfortunately, he didn't just offend his family, he offended 25% of Americans who deal with mental illness and all those who live with someone mentally ill. Those words should have never come out of his mouth.
Statisticts on mental illness in America