Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, RIP.

The Guardian chooses now to tear down the stigma attached to the act of suicide:
//A brilliant but tortured individual has taken his own life, and this is a tragedy. But levelling ignorant accusations of selfishness certainly won’t prevent this from happening again. People should never be made to feel worse for suffering from something beyond their control.//

We should have pity for Robin Williams and sympathy for his family.  We will never know, but we should charitably indulge the assumption that Williams was irrational when - if - he killed himself.

But because we are rational, we should also be willing to describe suicide as a the epitome of a selfish act.  Suicide damages the people left behind and it is the ultimate statement of an ego demanding that its wants be satisfied no matter who else is damaged.

We should also clearly teach that suicide is evil because that teaching - the moral opprobrium and shame associated with the act - may have some deterrent value on the margins, more at least than a social acceptance of suicide as something that, you know, some people just do.


marian said...

While judgmental attitudes and stigma may help to deter some individuals, no one who has not experienced depression has a right to judge another person's actions toward suicide or demand that the stigma remain in place for any purpose. We as Americans go to great lengths to hide our suffering from one another and we don't know how to express our deepest pain to anyone. Most of us are ashamed of our suffering and we should NOT be.

When we are in severe states we don't have any realistic perspective to help us wait it out and/or see the future as any better.

I think the world is removing stigma from every sinful activity and there is a virtual free for all available in all manner of sins and imprudent actions. Our problem is that so many seem to have lost God as their focus and so many don't include religion in their treatment when it becomes this difficult.

If someone could have convinced him that he had a good future ahead or to keep going, only maybe would that have worked. It does not help to condemn a person before they suicide or afterward, who is suffering. Yes it is something we can always perceive as selfish, but the reality of their state is that they can't think any more when they are this ill. They can no longer weigh the consequences when their brain is not working right.

Lauran said...

My thanks to you, PSB. After reading the entire day about the "deeply depressed Williams," yours was the only response that acknowledges the sheer selfishness in his self-murder.

Archbishop Sheen once compared suicide to a person violently sweeping the chessboard clean of pieces because they're not winning the game. Williams was 63--he was so close to victory.

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