The Internet news has been a buzz with the news of Robin Williams death. My heart goes out to his family and I pray that God gives them comfort in this time of tragedy.
The news is reporting that Williams’ suicide was largely due to depression:
A despondent Robin Williams spent 18 hours a day sleeping inside the darkened bedroom where he committed suicide as he spiraled into a fatal depression.
I saw one article at least that seemed to focus on the depression factor that lead to his suicide.
Instantly, we recalled other artists who followed the same tragic path, a lengthy list that includes painters, poets, writers, musicians and designers: Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Kurt Cobain, Alexander McQueen to name just a few of the famous creatives who suffered from depression and committed suicide.
But is there a proven link between creativity and mental illness (which, strictly speaking, is not the same as being mad)? This is still a matter of hot debate.
I wonder if the article had the wrong focus. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Robin Williams has struggled with drug addiction:
He struggled with cocaine and alcohol abuse in the early ’80s, after his rise to fame on Mork & Mindy.
Apparently, Williams had gained some victory but relapsed. Hollywood Reporter:
After 20 years of sobriety, though, Williams relapsed in 2006.
This situation has called for a heightened awareness of depression and mental illness. But, what about a call to beware of the dangers of drug abuse? I found several articles confirming that depression and dug abuse are linked.
For example, ABC News says:
There is a very close relationship between depression and substance abuse in adults. The two conditions are highly comorbid, which is to say that they occur together in an extremely high percentage of individuals.
The article goes on to say that it is possible that the drug addiction can cause or contribute to the depression:
Cocaine tends to elevate people’s moods, but when they come off it, they often experience a crash into depression. And there is a whole long list of other frequent drugs of abuse that also can lead to depression either during the time when the individual is intoxicated with the drug or during the withdrawal phase.
The Net Doctor says it this way:
There are certain chemicals in the brain (called neurotransmitters) that are key to the way we feel – in other words they control our emotions.
It’s the levels of these chemicals that are altered in depression. Recreational drugs also affect these chemicals. This is why drugs alter the way we feel.
May I suggest that we take this moment to remember that drug abuse is dangerous and can have serious impacts?
In another twist, I saw on the US Weekly Magazine that:
Actor Rob Schneider has blamed his good friend Robin Williams’ tragic death on a drug he was taking to combat the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
The same article goes on to mention that:
“Robin’s sobriety was intact,” his wife wrote in a statement earlier that day. “And he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety, as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.”
So, maybe we can’t place all the blame for the suicide on the drug abuse. There were definitely other things at play.
Then, I ran into this other article alleging that Cocaine can lead to Parkinson’s
For years, Williams had openly discussed his battle with depression and also with substance abuse. Board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock believes that Williams’ substance abuse — specifically his use of cocaine — was at the root of his Parkinson’s disease. In fact, a major study has found that cocaine users are at much higher risk for the brain illness.
The article states that the cocaine could have led to the Parkinson’s even though he wasn’t currently battling the cocaine addition:
Still, alcohol and depression were constant battles, although his wife said he was sober at the time of his death.
However, the heavy cocaine use of his past may have already done its damage, setting up Williams to develop Parkinson’s in the future, said Dr. Blaylock.
The point is that drug abuse, whether or not it directly led to Robin Williams’ death, can have serious affects, not only on your current health and life but also on your future health as you age.
Not matter the cause, this suicide is deeply person for Robin Williams’ family and friends. It’s not right to callously use his situation as a case study or propaganda. I don’t want to loose sight of the pain that they are going through At the same time, I did notice that the tragedy of another friend is one of the things that caused Williams to fight the addiction. Hollywood Reporter:
“The Belushi tragedy was frightening,” Williams told People. “His death scared a whole group of show-business people. It caused a big exodus from drugs. And for me, there was the baby coming. I knew I couldn’t be a father and live that sort of life.”
I can’t claim to know Robin Williams’ personally or even to be much of a fan, but with that said, could I guess that he might want the same thing said of his life? Would he want it said of him that he helped to trigger an “exodus” from drugs?
Is it possible that Williams’ death will spur someone help and fight the addiction? While respecting their grieving, is that the story we should be telling?
- The Hollywood Reporter: Robin Williams’ Long Struggle With Addiction
- ABC News: What Is The Relationship Between Depression And Substance Abuse?
- Net Doctor: Drugs and depression
- Robin Williams spent final days in darkened bedroom as depression worsened; friend Rebecca Erwin Spencer found his body
- USA Today: Robin Williams: A link between genius, mental illness?
- US Weekly Magazine: Rob Schneider Blames Parkinson’s Drugs for Robin Williams’ Death, “One of the Side Effects is Suicide”
- News Max Health: Did Cocaine Abuse Give Robin Williams Parkinson’s?