‘Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and souls deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.’ -John Donne
All of a sudden the words Robin William, dead, no more, suicide, depression, post mortem, shock, disbelief, dismay, horror, pain, sadness, regret are raining on us from all and every direction and the whole world is collectively and helplessly bemoaning the loss of one of the most talented and loved actor of our times. There’s immense media engagement and the twitter, blogs, e-news, past videos of interviews of the deceased icon, Facebook obits, most Googled and trending name show the effect of such a news as well as the anxious curiosity of the people to know something more, something extra about the great comedian, of his life that could perhaps lead one to some kind of conclusion that would explain his successful bid to end his otherwise fully accomplished life. After all, he had everything one could ask for in this life. People aspire to achieve what he had achieved but apparently that too wasn’t sufficient. But suicide is an affliction that is more common than any one actually realises. In a world that hums the mantra of living it up, this is quite a downer literally. All debates and conjectures ended with the fact that he was depressed, abused substance, and had shown early signs of Parkinson. Nothing could be ascertained fully until the post mortem report came in. And that will take some time in coming up. What is for sure is that he was dealing with some conflicts whether mental or physical, it was a fight he wasn’t able to sustain any further. This has left his admirers flummoxed as it is inconceivable how an apparently happily disposed man, who made people happy with his knack for making the atmosphere light and ticklish could be dealing with his own demons without an inkling of it to the outside world.
What could be the possible reasons for people deciding on it?
As far as one casts his sight, we can find ourselves surrounded with abundance. The world today has a surfeit of everything- material goods as well as spiritual wellness services that any person can avail of any time, anywhere. One has to try only this bit (showing a pinch with the thumb and forefinger) to get what one wants from this world. Some take more of this and some, the other.
No action as extreme as this could be considered a spur of the moment decision even when it seems that the action was spontaneous. One may react to a circumstance that had reached a threshold of his/her tolerance when in a fit of anger or when goaded or pushed/provoked resulted in taking one’s life.
A poor man would consider himself unfortunate for not having the fancy chairs, modern electronic gadgets or the lawn in front of his house but the one who does have all of that may also not be really happy. Although I do believe that too much money or too less of it does act as a catalyst in taking extreme decisions like taking owns life or the others’!
For instance the infamous cases of the poor farmers in India who were pushed into taking their own lives as they were unable to repay the loans they had taken from banks. They were driven into doing it as they did not see any solution to the problem that raised its head ominously day after day. In this the farmer was reaching a conclusion inch by inch till a moment when he could bear it no more. Unable to face it anymore they found it easier to remove themselves from the scene to avoid the regular harassment from the people employed by the banks to extract the money they claim is rightfully theirs, perhaps not realising the repercussions on their surviving family members. IT DOES AFFECT the deceased’s family and friends.
There’s heart break and there’s illnesses and there’s lot of different kind of pain that may lead one to the end of the tether.
One thing that has resulted as an outcome of his death is trying to bring out suicide as a real and a social problem and not a one off thing that may happen to just someone who wasn’t able to face the crisis or the world. It is being widely accepted as a malady, an illness that needs immediate attention and in extreme situations, treatment too. It is unfortunate that a person or the ‘patient’s’ relatives will in most cases not take medical supervision for societal inhibitions. And in most cases, the situation will unspool to dire results. The word ‘weak’ and ‘thoughtless’ are the words often linked with the one who takes that leap beyond faith. The faith over self, friends, relations, God and even fate or destiny, that was relinquished while choosing to seek the answers beyond life.
While the acceptance to the immensity of the problem as being very real one is gaining ground, there are people raising volume to grasp the moment when public attention is held to the current topic of a suicide by a celebrity and rally for it as we do for any other illness for say like cancer or AIDS etc. If one does tread this path, one has to do so carefully taking into account the fragile psycho-socio factors connected with it. A recent New York Times report claims that more news about suicides especially of celebrities has been linked to an increase in suicides especially among young people. In today’s world of depleting pedigree of role models, actors take up a huge space of our lives who we accord a high pedestal and imbibe things consciously or unconsciously from them.
Having said that, life will celebrate what Robin Williams gave us- joy and laughter. Death cannot take that away and that’s how a soul lives on- through karma. RIP Mork.
More on topic of self inflicted death in the next post – ‘Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee?’