When the Laughter Died…
Robin Williams Died With It

By Jim Berlin

Speaking of Robin Williams…

A common cliché in obituaries is that the dearly departed succumbed after “a courageous battle with cancer.”

What that means is – he didn’t commit suicide. Even when hope was gone and the grim reaper had tired of chucking rocks at the window and was breaking down the door with a fire axe, the patient kept taking his meds and following doctor’s order until the bitter end.

You don’t earn the “courageous battle with cancer” accolade if you off yourself before the cancer does. So…can you earn the “courageous battle with depression” accolade if you hang yourself years before your appointed time?

When a reasonably healthy man with money and extraordinary talent cuts his life short – the only life he’ll ever have – a life not awarded to him until the universe had existed for 13 billion years…ending it prematurely seems a serious case of ingratitude.

But there’s a difference here. Depression in its worst form is not a fleeting melancholy to be cured with hot cocoa and a cookie. At its apex it is a suffocating blanket of black with not a single redemptive shaft of light peeking through.

It is a sonofabitch. And when combined with a craving for drugs and booze it becomes a lethal cocktail that can drive a man to madness. And madness to suicide.

Unlike cancer, people with chronic depression do not fight a single epic battle and either win

or lose. The Big D comes in successive waves, breaking against the brain again and again down through the weeks and months and years. And each wave is a battle unto itself.

As the last great wave washed over Robin Williams – one of the funniest men in history – he was finally betrayed and abandoned by his sense of humor. He could not find a single thing to smile about.

When the laughter dies, so does a comedian’s reason to live. It has nothing to do with courage.