Robin Williams, suicide and knowing you're enough

(I'm talking about depression and suicide in this post so please give it a miss if it will upset you.)

The news of Robin Williams' death yesterday hit me for six. Any bright light extinguished leaves us all a little more in the dark than before. Robin Williams was nuclear fusion bright and leaves shadows in corners which weren't there until he left us. Quite simply, he was a stalwart of my childhood and formative years. I was raised watching Mork and Mindy (nanu nanu!) and as the years went by this conjurer of emotions continued to make me laugh, cry, or be afraid (in the case of One Hour Photo).

As is so often the case with genius, it comes with a side order of madness, a drop of darkness and a cluster of demons. To anybody who might have said 'But he had all that money and fame, how could he be depressed?' I would ask: Have you ever been depressed? I already know the answer to that question, because if you had you wouldn't need to ask. Depression does not discriminate - prince or pauper, lavatory cleaner or brain surgeon.

If you can't even imagine a place so dark that you feel the world would be better off without you, you're blessed. Almost 20 years ago after an accident which affected my mobility I was well on the way to alcoholism, and life seemed intolerable. I contemplated suicide on a daily basis for many months. No one knew, not a soul, until blurted it all out to my dad finally. Thankfully I had the presence of mind to realise the booze was fuelling the black dog, and I gave it up and became well again in time. It's not so long ago that I can't remember how utterly bereft of hope I felt, and as such I have the utmost compassion for anyone in such a dark place they can see no other way out. Of course it's always worse for the ones left behind, the ones thinking they could've done something, but for casual onlookers to demonise pained souls who take their own lives is breathtakingly devoid of compassion.

There is still so much to be done in the way of awareness if people still think suicide as a result of mental illness is selfish, or if having money and talent somehow insulates a person to the debilitating effects of depression. Nothing does. Depression does not care who you are.

I have been depressed again for the last 5 years or so, but it's different this time. It's not a suicidal depression, but a general heaviness as a result of having Fibromyalgia and CFS/ME. It's mostly under control with medication (and after having therapy last year) but occasionally I still struggle with feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. I still question what's wrong with me occasionally. The difference is the majority of the time I know these feelings will pass and that these voices in my head are liars.

I think it's a very human thing to look for fault within ourselves and to question if we are enough. Enough. Such a little word which bears such great consequence on our self esteem and mental well-being. No one can know for sure what Robin Williams' mindset was before he died, or if he knew how much he was valued. All we can know is he had to be in unimaginable pain, and for that we must have compassion. But more so we need compassion for the living - for ourselves and for each other. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you are suffering. Don't be afraid to ask if you think someone else is.

There is such a plethora of reasons that might cause a person to feel suicidal, and many of them are covered in the helplines and websites listed below. [Information source.] Please feel free to add any more you may know of in the comments.
Should you ever feel like life is spiralling out of control for any reason please PLEASE talk to someone.

Depression, anxiety, obsession and mental health

Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm)

Depression Alliance

Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.


CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.

Bipolar UK

A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.


Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 08457 90 90 90 (24-hour helpline)


Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness.
Phone: 0845 767 8000 (daily, 6pm-11pm)
SANEmail email:


Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)

The Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.


Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Phone: Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)


Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri,10am-5pm & 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm)

Abuse (child, sexual, domestic violence)


Children's charity dedicated to ending child abuse and child cruelty.
Phone: 0800 1111 for Childline for children (24-hour helpline)
0808 800 5000 for adults concerned about a child (24-hour helpline)


Advice on dealing with domestic violence.
Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)

Addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling)

Alcoholics Anonymous

Phone: 0845 769 7555 (24-hour helpline)

Narcotics Anonymous

Phone: 0300 999 1212 (daily until midnight)

Gamblers Anonymous



Alzheimer's Society

Provides information on dementia, including factsheets and helplines.
Phone: 0300 222 1122 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm. Weekends, 10am-4pm)


Cruse Bereavement Care

Phone: 0844 477 9400 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)

Crime victims 

Find your local helpline at:

Rape Crisis

Phone: 0808 802 9999 (daily, 12pm-2.30pm, 7pm-9.30pm)

Victim Support

Phone: 0845 30 30 900 (Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm. Weekends, 9am-7pm)

Eating disorders


Phone: 0845 634 1414 (Mon-Thurs, 1.30pm-4.30pm)

Learning disabilities


Charity working with people with a learning disability, their families and carers.
Phone: 0808 808 1111 (for information on their services)


OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Action

Support for people with obsessive compulsive disorder. Includes information on treatment and online resources.
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm)


A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.
Phone: 0845 120 3778 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)

Panic and anxiety 

No Panic

Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD. Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD. Includes a helpline.
Phone: 0800 138 8889 (daily, 10am-10pm)

No More Panic  

Provides valuable information for sufferers and carers of people with Panic, Anxiety, Phobias and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD). You should use the website information, Message Forum and Chat room alongside any care you are currently receiving from your physician.Website:


Family Lives

Phone: 0808 800 2222 (daily, 7am-midnight)


Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you've been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)



Phone: 0300 100 1234 (for information on their services)

In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.

Thanks for reading.

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