On Tuesday morning the world woke up to the tragic news that the iconic actor Robin Williams had sadly passed away. What made the story so difficult to digest was the fact that Williams’ death was the result of suicide.
A man adored by millions who had enjoyed a lifetime full of triumphs and successes, a talent that few could match and a family who adored him. How could someone who seemed to have it all want to put an end to a life that so many envied?
It wasn’t long after the story broke that it was revealed that the actor’s suicide was a consequence of his long-standing battle with severe depression. This is just the thing about depression. It doesn’t choose people based on what they do for a living, how much money they earn, where they went to university, how big their house is or how many friends they have. Robin Williams’ death is in fact a tragic reminder to the world that depression can affect every single one of us.
Although Williams is undoubtedly one of the most high profile casualties of suicide in recent years, he certainly isn’t alone on the list of apparently successful people who have suffered from from depression. Owen Wilson, Heath Ledger, David Arquette, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, Princess Diana and Winona Ryder are all perfect examples of how someone can appear to have it all yet be facing such inner turmoil.
Mixed anxiety and depression is now the most common mental disorder in Britain yet an alarming number of stereotypes still surround the illness. These include, depressed people cry a lot, are always down in the dumps, perform badly at work, are incredibly stressed out, have money problems and never leave the house.
Possibly the most shocking thing about the list of celebrities who have suffered from depression at some point in their lives is the fact that many of them are comedians or well-known for their comedic roles. Surely this completely dispels the myth that you would be able to tell if someone is depressed because they would always be sad?
There is absolutely no doubt that Robin Williams will be long remembered for the joy he brought to many, the laughter he evoked and the incredible talent he shared. What Williams would have no doubt really wanted however is for the world to start paying attention to depression and the devastating impact it can have on the lives of those who suffer - often in silence.
For more information about depression, the signs and our treatment programmes, please visit our page. You can also learn more about depression at the Life Works Depression Knowledge Centre.