Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves ……

Hearing that Robin Williams lost his fight to depression came as a reminder that depression is not some nancy pansy little problem that goes away if you try to be happy.

When (ignorant) people discuss depression and refer to it as an “attitude” and a “choice” I really get all sorts of riled up.

This perception that you can “choose to be a happy person”, that you can “choose to wake up happy” is really tiresome, ignorant and life threatening.

I overheard a discussion yesterday on the radio and the DJ’s were talking about depression and how their respective families view it. 

The one DJ says that if she says she is depressed her family tell her to go for a run and get some fresh air.

There were other really “helpful” suggestions as well.

I agree that often some behaviour does assist you to feel a bit better when you are depressed. But much of this is going to be a thin layer of assistance to a tumor that is festering inside your head and your soul.

Depression as a disease —as diseases go it is a very committed disease.  It has a clear goal.

Depression wants you to kill yourself.  That is what it is planning and trying to do all the time. Simple.  It is a mental disease that is trying to find a way for you to end it all.  It never lets up.  

I cannot put it any simpler.  Yes it sounds harsh, but that is what it is doing, and working at tirelessly.

I have been very lucky that my depression has abated for the most part for the last two or three years.

I can feel him there, scratching at the door some days, but for the most part, I get to function and get through my day without having the oppressive thoughts and feelings following me around.

This does not mean that I still do not think that “all is in actual fact lost” that possibly it is a better option to “just end it all” and that “maybe my life is not worth living.  If I leave now, it will cause less damage than if I leave later and people get too attached to me….”

I have at least one suicidal thought a day.  But it is usually fleeting, and does not take over my entire being.

I am not depressed at the moment — but because it is a permanent part of my fabric, my being, the thoughts and feelings creep into each and every day.

I have sufficient emotional resources – at present – to not let the nagging thoughts, the destructive thoughts, and the darkness from taking firm root.

I am lucky.  At the moment.

Depression is a bit like HIV – once you have it you always have it.  

You can treat it, and you can keep it under control as long as you stick to the strict regime (everyone’s regime is different) – but do not think for a moment that it has gone away.

Depression is a sneaky little bitch and will hide and make you think you have beat that bitch at hide and seek.

You may feel so good some days, even for weeks and then you think “I have beat this thing….” You slowly stop what ever medication or assistance you had been receiving, and sooner or later — usually far sooner than later, you find that it has crept back and invaded your life.

Just as you think that you are sitting on top of the world, it will unfurl itself and wrap it’s arms around you and start to squeeze tight — to remind you that your black dog is always there, waiting, waiting.  Biding his time.  No rush.  He will always be there.  Ever faithful.

Robin Williams —- a man who suffered from depression.  He made it his life’s work to make you and me laugh, at ourselves, at him and situations.  

Robin Williams’ comedy always had that “edge” to it — even at his funniest, there was a sense that his humour was not the “clown humour of the circus” but there was indeed something deep, dark, and complex lurking behind the face paint and bright red nose.

Robin Williams losing his life to depression — is a lesson to me, that I am always at risk.  That I should never be complacent.   

Robin Williams losing his life to depression — reminds me that depression is not a fleeting bad moment, it is a life time of fighting and enduring.

Robin Williams losing his life to depression — saddens me to my core.

Robin Williams losing his life to depression — does not mean depression always wins, it just means that sometimes we lose that one battle.


I read this article, and it is so brilliantly written – I loved the way it shows how it describes so eloquently how people who are funny are often using a mask to protect themselves.  

Their humour is a way for them to cope, for them to connect and for them to feel like they are accepted.

Please pop along and read David Wong’s full article on CRACKED.  

You ever have that funny friend, the class-clown type, who one day just stopped being funny around you? Did it make you think they were depressed? Because it’s far more likely that, in reality, that was the first time they were comfortable enough around you to drop the act.

The ones who kill themselves, well, they’re funny right up to the end.


By now you know that Robin Williams has committed suicide, but I’m not here to talk about him. He’s gone, and you’re still here, and suicidal thoughts are so common among our readers and writers that our message board has a hidden section where moderators can coordinate responses to suicide threats. And in case you’re wondering, no, that’s not a joke — I remember the first time John tracked down a guy’s location and got an ambulance dispatched to his house. Then we all sat there, at 4 in the morning, waiting to hear if they got there in time (they did).


Because Cracked is driven by an army of aspiring comedy writer freelancers, the message boards are full of a certain personality type. And while I don’t know what percentage of funny people suffer from depression, from a rough survey of the ones I know and work with, I’d say it’s approximately “all of them.” So when I hear some naive soul say, “Wow, how could a wacky guy like [insert famous dead comedian here] just [insert method of early self-destruction here]? He was always joking around and having a great time!” my only response is a blank stare.

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  1. Thank you, you have described exactly what I feel when the black dog attacks. It must be the super moon or some such other phenomenon driving the depression as many people around the same time had suicidal depressive episodes. I happen to be one of them.

  2. Most of the funniest blogs I read are written by people suffering from depression. Every single one of those blogs has a blogpost up about Robin Williams.

  3. Well written. Thank you

  4. Very well written. Thank you

  5. Reblogged this on The Introspective Turtle and commented:
    An insightful post by Celeste, writer of the Reluctant Mom (one of my favourite blogs to read), on the death of Robin Williams and depression.

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