An Opportunity for Reflection

So, like many of you, Robin Williams’ tragic death took me by surprise.  I never expected to feel compelled to write a blog post but my reaction to his heartbreaking passing took me by surprise.  Robin Williams was/is a truly gifted and beautiful soul who brought light and laughter to all those around him.  I pray that he and his loved ones are able to find some measure of comfort in the public outpouring of compassion in response to his death.

That being said, as an (almost) psychologist, I have seen numerous posts on social media that say “Shame on you.”  Really? Shame on Robin Williams? Who was in so much incredible pain that he saw death as the only option? Why be SO quick to judge?  What a wonderful opportunity to practice kindness and compassion.

Just because suicide is difficult to talk about does not mean it isn’t happening.  Mental illness is like any other illness.  Would you find it appropriate to write “Shame on you” on a cancer patient’s Facebook wall? I doubt it.  Instead of judging someone who already took their life maybe you should examine why your first response is to BLAME the victim.

That’s right.  I said VICTIM.  A person who was suffering from such overwhelming pain that they unfortunately chose death as the means to an end.  We are all HUMAN.  We all have emotions.  In this range of emotions, we all experience: joy, sadness, despair, pain, laughter, happiness, sorrow, grief, impulsivity, worry, impatience, empathy, etc…

We are all beautifully and wonderfully flawed.  It’s part of the human condition.  But don’t forget that KINDNESS MATTERS.  Always.

The next time you see someone who is struggling, do not be so quick to judge. One kind word or five minutes of your time might change that entire person’s day… Or even life.


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