The monthly Synchroblog topic for August is Connection. The Synchroblog crash topic for August (in light of the apparent suicide of Robin Williams) is to share our thoughts about a Robin Williams movie that impacted our life. (Those posts were downloaded a couple days ago and some links will follow this post. I did this post instead). Initially, I thought I’d pull up an old post to fit the Connection theme since I’d written several in the last few months about my connections to my family and on-line community. In other words, I wasn’t too inspired to write anything new. When I heard of Robin Williams’ death and the idea for a crash topic I immediately thought about my three favorite Williams films–The Fisher King, Goodwill Hunting, and Dead Poets Society. Like my son whose FB status stated:
Robin Williams did not only make me laugh. He made me cry. He made me believe I could be a kid no matter what my age. As “O Captain! My Captain!” he gave me an ideal to strive for. And he allowed me see Joy in even the most sorrowful of times. I will miss his heart far more than his humor.
I will miss the serious Williams every bit as much as the comedian, for even in his comedy he usually made a point that gave me much to ponder. The best comedians make those kinds of connections and Williams was one of the best. Ironically, my three favorite Williams movies deal, in different ways, with mental illness, isolation, suicide, and finding connection.
I am fortunate. I am connected to a community. I do not suffer from chronic bouts of depression. I am not addicted to anything more dangerous than caffeine. I am not famous. Even so, I have often felt the need to “act”. I have addiction tendencies, need to watch my alcohol and sugar intake, quit smoking and don’t dare have “just one”. I’ve contemplated suicide though not to the point of making a plan. And, I do not always trust my community with my pain.
The blogishere has been full of analysis, advice, criticism, etc. regarding Robin Williams specifically and suicide in general. Some of it has been harsh, some of it ridiculous, and some of it helpful. Why should we expect anything else?! Aren’t we all trying to make sense of a tragedy? Don’t we each want an answer that guarantees this won’t happen again. But it will. And as humans, we will need to continue to wrestle with how that. it. makes us feel.
Two posts from the dozen’s I’ve seen stand out to me. While some have criticized Matt Walsh’s article as insensitive and simplistic in its conclusion I think he actually contributes one perspective, one point of view to the conversation: we don’t want to make it easier for people to commit suicide. We don’t want to add more hopelessness–the disease won’t let me say no–to the despair a person already feels. In that sense Walsh is correct, even if everything he says isn’t completely thought through.
Katie Hurley offers a different take in her Huffington Post piece yet she, too, has missed a few beats. Being in a dark place, feeling like you are a burden, losing hope that anything in your life will change–those feelings can be overwhelming. They put a person in despair and shut down rational thought. Yet understanding how one gets to such a dark place does not take away the impact suicide has on those left to wrestle with self blame, guilt, anger, grief, and sometimes their own despair. Understanding why does not negate the fact that suicide can be, in fact often is, a self oriented solution to an overwhelming problem. So while Hurley brings a level of compassion to the discussion: just because it can be called selfish does not diminish the pain the individual who takes his or her life feels, she, like Walsh, was not entirely sensitive to the complexities of the issue.
The bottom line is, I do not know what brings people to the point of following through with their thoughts of suicide and frankly, neither does anyone else–including the experts. What we can all agree on, I hope, is that the conversation needs to continue. We need more not less talk. We need to heighten awareness. We need to make access to mental health care more available. We need to reduce the stigmas that contribute to the fear and shame that keep people isolated and in the shadows. As individuals we need to educate ourselves and one another about depression. We need to learn the signs that tell us someone is contemplating suicide. We need to take the signs seriously and to act when we see someone in trouble.
And after all that, we need to understand that we are not going to solve the problem of suicide over night. In fact, it may never be solved completely which is why we must become more sensitive. We must become more available to those left in the aftermath. We, as much as those who have died, are the victims of suicide unless we are able to grow out of the pain. To grow, we need to work at hearing one another’s heart as well as all the words. Welsh and Hurley, along with the rest of us, are best able to contribute to our understanding of this incredibly complex issue if we want to understand what is true more than we want to prove someone else wrong. Our connections and our on-going conversations are the biggest defenses we have against depression and suicide.
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Connections Link list:
Jerry Wirtley – Connection
Sara Quezada – Can You Really Know Someone In A Different Language?
Ford – Interindependence
Michael Donahoe – Connection
Minnow – Our Dis-Connect
Justin Steckbauer – Connection in Love, it’s what Life is all about!
Carol Kuniholm – Disengagement and Connection
Wesley Rostoll – Finding Jesus In Different Places
Doreen A Mannion – A bunny, a fawn and some geese walk into a bar …
Leah Sophia – Touch of Life
Karen “Charity” Aldrich – Wuv True Wuv
Abbie Watters – Connection – Addicted to the Buzz
Liz Dyer – Human Connection and the Power of Empathy
Here is the Crash topic link list:
Chad Jones – A Reflection Upon the Death of Robin Williams
Justin Steckbauer – Remembering Robin Williams
Glenn Hager – It’s Not Your Fault
Ryan Thomas Neace – Requiem for a Therapist:A Tribute to Robin Williams
The links for the Connections theme will be posted as soon as I get them after the 20th (I’m moving so it might take a little time: