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Depression and the Dearly Departed: Understanding Robin Williams’ Demise

Posted on: Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Yesterday, the comedian Robin Williams ended his own life. To some it comes as a surprise that this warm, enthusiastic and clever man had a history of mental health issues. There is, however, an extensive history linking comedians and depression. Other examples of comedians who have dealt with depression include Jim Carrey, Dave Chapelle, Russell Brand and you may know others who have battled similar demons.

In trying to cope with the pain that we are feeling, we may present a much brighter face to the world than what we are experiencing inside. This isn’t just comedians, people in all walks of life use humour as a coping mechanism. How can we identify the pain beneath the humour of friends, family and co-workers? Though each person experiences and expresses symptoms of depression differently, the following are a number of changes which may manifest in someone who is using a mask of humour to cope.

  • If someone makes repeated jokes and/or off hand remarks about suicide, depression, or the pointlessness of life
  • If someone stops taking proper care of themselves and dismisses it with humour
  • e.g, alarming changes in his/her eating, sleeping or bathing habits
  • If someone has difficulty concentrating on day to day matters
  • If someone’s sense of humour changes drastically
  • If someone finds no pleasure in activities with family and friends and withdraws from his/her social life
  • If someone is normally quite humorous and you see that it is straining him/her to maintain the funny facade

The most important resource that you can offer someone who is having suicidal thoughts or depressive symptoms is the help of a trained mental health professional. You, as the concerned friend, family member or co-worker, may also benefit from speaking to a mental health professional in order to better support your loved one.

Contact a counsellor at Journey Counselling Inc.

Other crisis and/or mental health resources in Calgary:

  • ·       Emergency Services: 911
  • ·       The Distress Centre: (403) 266-4357
  • ·       Alberta Mental Health Line: 1 (877) 303-2642
  • ·       Distress Centre Teen Line (403) 264-8336
  • ·       Calgary Mental Health Crisis (Mobile Unit) 403 242-7740

by: Aisha Boyce, MA

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