Robin Williams at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Featureflash via Shutterstock.
That a “universally beloved” entertainer such as Robin Williams could commit suicide “speaks to the power of psychiatric illness,” mental health experts say.
Williams, who died Monday at age 63, had some of the risk factors for suicide: He was known to have bipolar disorder, depression, and drug abuse problems, said Julie Cerel, a psychologist and board chair of the American Association of Suicidology.
People who are severely depressed can’t see past their failures, even if they’ve been as successful as Williams.
“With depression, people just forget,” said Cerel, who is also an associate professor at the University of Kentucky. “They get so consumed by the depression and by the feelings of not being worthy that they forget all the wonderful things in their lives.”
They feel like a burden on their family and that the world would be better off without them.
“Having depression and being in a suicidal state twists reality. It doesn’t matter if someone has a wife or is well-loved,” Cerel said.
Williams was certainly beloved, as shown by the outpouring of grief and sympathy on social media outlets Tuesday night.