As you know, I am deeply affected and saddened by the death of someone who was a major influence in my life, my old improv buddy, Robin Williams. The aftermath is hitting us hard, as it should.
Please skip the next paragraph if you do not want the horribly unpleasant details of his death.
As I write this, MSNBC is airing a press conference with those details. He apparently hung himself with a belt, and there were superficial cuts on his wrist. There was a pocket knife found nearby, but they can't confirm anything else until further tests are completed. He was clothed. His assistant found him, rigor mortis had already set in. Further information will be released in a few weeks, once toxicology tests and other pertinent information come back, including whether or not there was a note.
I'm beyond heartsick. This can't have happened, but it did. It shouldn't have happened, but it did. Robin Williams was larger than life, but ironically and tragically, life became too big for Robin to handle.
Today on TV, I heard a report by a mental health expert. She told us how important it is for anyone suffering from depression and/or addiction to continue treatment, despite feeling resilient (or reluctant), and that it might not be necessary. Experts keep reminding us to keep seeking help, to be vigilant, to reach out and care for our loved ones. Keep going to rehab, keep going to therapy, they say. And they're right. The news media are saturated with reporting about Robin's life and chronic mental health issues.
Today on TV, I heard a report about the sadness, anger, protests, and retaliation in response to the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer. The news media are awash in stories about yet another shooting of another young, unarmed African American.
Today on TV, I heard a report about people starving to death on a scalding hot mountaintop in Iraq at the hands of the terrorist group ISIS. The news media has been all over this horrific story.
The news media swarm and hyper-focus on huge, painful stories like these, and we all listen and discuss and cry and scream and care immensely.
And then we stop.
We don't stop caring, but we stop being pro-active, because the next Big Story comes along and that wave of emotion or controversy or fear or sadness or tragedy or outrage or terror or death or civil unrest or trauma or injustice comes along and diverts our attention... again.
This country is dysfunctional and needs extended rehab. This country needs to pay attention. We need sustained treatment as a nation, not spot checks. We need to continue to listen, care, and respond, to seek help, to be vigilant, to reach out, to get well. We need to lengthen our attention spans and accept the therapy that will help heal us.
We must listen to and heed the advice we're getting from experts. Hanging ourselves is not an option.