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Opening Arguments

Not so funny

I don't have anything to say about Robin Williams the performer or public figure. That's been well-covered all over the say. But I'm a little troubled by all the posible reasons given for the depression that led him to commit suicide:  He had money trouble, his career was sputtering, he had survivor's guilt, his drug and acohol abuse caught up with him. Michael Levine, a publicist who knew him for 30 years, gets it right:

Veteran Hollywood publicist, Michael Levine -- who knew Williams for 30 years -- noted that while he often talked about his depression publicly in an attempt to help others, he very much suffered in silence.

"Very few people in this world reach the level of fame Robin Williams did and could understand the type of depression he dealt with,” Levine added. “There tends to be a lack of compassion -- 'So what ,you’re famous' -- and it’s hard for people to then empathize. People like Robin often feel like they have to completely isolate themselves from the fishbowl they live in, and are so isolated they are afraid to ask for help."

It's not just "people like Robin," though who are prone to completely isolate themselves and suffer in in silence instead of asking for help. Few people understand the kind of deep, dark depression Williams suffered, and there always tends to be a certain lack of compassion. And while ther may be triggers for it. clinical depression doesn't depend of environmental factors; it's its own little bitch, relentless and remorseless.  I've seen the effects of depression, and it is about as ugly as it gets. Those people suffere deep emotional pain as real as any physical pain, and those of us who have never had it just can't fathom it.

I've seen the effects of suicide on survivors, too. Williams probably killed more than one person when he hanged himself. His friends and family are going to be saddled with guilt for the rest of their lives over not seeing it coming and doing more to prevent it.


Wed, 08/13/2014 - 11:57am

Rush Limbaugh seems to think he knows why Robin Williams died in an apparent suicide earlier this week -- and it's because unhappiness is an attitude of the political left.

The leftist attitude is "one of pessimism and darkness, sadness -- they're never happy, are they?" Limbaugh said on Tuesday's broadcast of his radio show. "They're always angry about something. No matter what they get, they're always angry."

Limbaugh cited a Fox News story that said Williams killed himself because he was embarrassed to take TV roles and parts in movie sequels, but had to do it because of financial troubles.

"He had it all but he had nothing. Made everybody else laugh but was miserable inside," Limbaugh said. "I mean, it fits a certain picture or a certain image that the left has. Talk about low expectations and general unhappiness and so forth."

Limbaugh also read a newspaper report that said Williams felt guilt over surviving the deaths of his friends Christopher Reeve, John Belushi and Andy Kaufman.

"He could never get over the guilt that they died and he didn't," Limbaugh said. "Well, that is a constant measurement that is made by political leftists when judging the country."

While there don't seem to be many studies on political leanings and suicide rates, research published last year found that suicide rates tend to be higher in states that vote Republican and have a higher rate of gun ownership.

A book by James Gilligan, Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others, says that suicide and violence rates rise during Republican presidencies and fall during Democratic administrations.

And another study found higher suicide rates in Australia and the United Kingdom when conservative governments are in power.  Such insight when you have "talent on loan from God"


Rebecca Mallory
Fri, 08/15/2014 - 6:10pm

Joe's incomplete narratively conveniently leaves out the Canadian data.

"Statistics suggest that the opposite is true in Canada where more Canadians take their own lives when a Liberal government is in Ottawa. Statistics Canada figures show that the suicide rate in 1956, the last full year that Liberal Louis St. Laurent was PM, the rate was 7.62 per 100,000 people. When Conservative John Diefenbaker swept to power in 1957 [Remember the 'Follow John' campaign with blue coloured footsteps on the sidewalks?], the rate dipped to 7.50 per 100,000 and continued to dip until it reached 7.10 in 1959. It then rose and dipped slightly until 1963.

When Liberal Lester 'Mike' Pearson took over, the suicide rate stood at 7.59 per 100,000 people. One year later, the rate had risen to 8.22 and continued to climb under successive Liberal administrations and hit double digits - 10.91 - in 1969 after P.E. Trudeau became prime minister and rose to 14.5 in 1978.

When Trudeau was ousted and Joe Clark took the office in 1979, the suicide rate fell to 13.87 and dropped to 13.70 in Clark's brief stint as PM. When Trudeau again stood atop the national political heap, the rate jumped up to 14.80 per 100,000 in 1983, the highest level since 1950.

When Brian Mulroney and the Conservatives held sway after the 1984 federal general election, the suicide rate dropped to 13.43 and slipped back and forth between 12 and 13 per 100,000 during the Conservative's term of office.

Since 1993, when the Liberals were returned to office, the rate has moved up and down between a high of 13.52 in 1995 to a low of 12.23 in 1998."