Honoring Robin Williams

By: Terra Clarke Olsen

Two days ago, the world lost a bright light. Robin William’s death stunned the world, and many people, myself included, had the same reaction: “No. No, this can’t be real. It’s a fake report….it has to be….”  But then more and more news sources started reporting it, and the reality and sadness started to sink in.

 I’ve never been one that’s emotionally affected by celebrities or their lives. But Williams was different. He touched so many lives in so many ways, known and unknown. He was one of those souls you were thankful existed for he truly made the world a brighter and better place.

Robin Williams face beard

 Like many people my age, my first memories of Williams are from his performance as the Genie in Aladdin. And it seems silly, but that character made a huge influence on me and many other kids. The Genie was caring and honest, but not without his troubles, much like Williams.

Williams wasn’t a “perfect” man. He struggled with addiction and inner demons. He was human. But he was a good man. Many people forget that being a good person doesn’t mean being perfect—it means caring for your fellow human. Williams embodied this ideology, something clear even from the little I knew about his life. And the past few days have made that even more apparent. The stories circling around the internet, from celebrities like Norm Macdonald and Conan O’Brien, to ‘regular folk’ like you and me, such as this heartwarming story on imgur, have proven how caring and genuine of a person Williams was throughout this life. He was a man who truly wanted to make other people happy. Yet, even with all the happiness he brought the world, he struggled with his own happiness. And perhaps the most heartbreaking thing out of all of this is the fact that Williams died of suicide. 

Suicide, of all things, it had to be suicide.

In the past, Williams discussed depression and it’s seriousness, urging people to seek help.

 robin williams on depression  

People who haven’t been depressed often dismiss the serious nature of the illness. My hope is that with this tragic loss, people begin to realize that mental illness is not a joke. It does not discriminate—it can affect anyone. Even a man who played one of the most beloved characters of all time.*

I hope you will join me in honoring Williams’ memory by striving to treat people with at least half the decency he showed his fellow man, and to fight for more resources for those struggling with depression and any other mental illness.**

And if you need help, please reach out. You’re not alone. Call 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800- 273-TALK .

robin williams genie hug


*I’ve been seeing an image of the Genie hugging Aladdin, with people adding in “Genie, you’re free.” STOP. This is glorifying suicide and is harmful. Williams was not ‘freed’ from his suicide. Suicide was the tragic outcome from a serious disease, depression. Please educate yourself on depression more before making such outrageous claims.

**I strongly urge you to write your local officials demanding more resources for those who suffer from mental illness. Perhaps get involved with your local National Alliance on Mental Illness.