He was such a funny man, he made so many people laugh.
Which only made his sad death even more shocking.
Robin Williams, the versatile actor whose madcap comic style made him one of television and film's biggest stars, was found dead on Monday from an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California. He was 63.
But as the Star's Peter Howell points out, he was a clown with a dark side.
“Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t cope with drugs,” he once said, possibly the most famous of his many classic one-liners. As always with Williams, 63, who was found dead in his California home Monday of an apparent suicide, there was a shard of truth in every joke. A clown with a dark side, he found reality tougher to deal with than he let on.
The Chicago-born comic genius had a quicksilver wit that masked a lifelong battle with depression. He was the epitome of the clown who laughed on the outside but cried on the inside.
And his death should remind us how cruel and how merciless is the demon depression.
That it is everywhere.
Nearly one in six full-time members of the Canadian Forces experienced symptoms of mental health or alcohol-related disorders over several months last year, a Statistics Canada survey suggests.
The most common disorder reported was a major depressive episode, with eight per cent of full-time members reporting symptoms in the 12 months prior to the survey.
And that as a society we must do so much more to fight it. More to help those suffering, and more to support those who love and care for them.
Because it hurts EVERYONE.
I know, because as I've mentioned before, I recently accompanied a friend with severe depression through the
Starting with the moment when I realized that there weren't near enough resources or decent facilities to help my friend, not enough doctors or therapists. Discovered that the mentally ill were being marginalized in our own hospitals, treated like second-class patients or citizens. And that shameful stigma, even in the 21st Century, is still a huge problem.
A nightmare journey that left me in such a state of shock and exhaustion, anger, and despair. I honestly wondered at times whether I was going to survive it. Let alone my poor friend.
So when the demon depression kills, like it killed Robin Williams...
I only hope his tragic death will shine a light on that scourge of humanity, and encourage us to fight it so much better and so much harder. Now in his name too.
Because the demon is so cruel, and it is so sad, because he was such a comic genius...
But strangely enough, it was his performance in a much darker movie, The Dead Poets Society, that left the greatest impression on me.
So when I saw this suggestion for a tribute from the British journalist Johann Hari...
I thought, yes, yes, that would be PERFECT.
Let him play the English teacher John Keating, who used poetry to teach his students to defy convention and stand up for themselves. And told them to call him O'Captain! My Captain! after the famous Walt Whitman poem, when they felt daring.
Only to be fired by the ghastly headmaster, after being unjustly blamed for a suicide, and have his students stand up for him...
O'Captain! My Captain! How soon and so sad the ending.
Damm the demon depression. Fight it, fight it, fight it.
Good night Robin Williams.
Thanks for the laughs...
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