Robin Williams: Now Joking With the Angels

Caitlin Husted, Senior Editor

From his comedic role of the Genie in “Aladdin” to the serious role of Sean Maguire in “Good Will Hunting,” Robin Williams was an actor who mastered a variety of roles and touched many lives. Unfortunately, this became especially evident as the news of his death swept through the nation.

On Aug. 11, at around 11:45 am, Williams’ personal assistant found the actor in the bathroom of his home. Williams was found fully clothed “with a belt secured around his neck, with the other end of the belt wedged between the clothes closet door and the door frame,” Marin County Sheriff’s Lt. Keith Boyd said at a press conference held on Aug. 12 at the Marin County’s Sheriff’s Office.

Although the news of his suicide took many by surprise, Williams’ family and friends had noticed that he was starting to disconnect. According to an article on “LA Times” Rick Overton, friend of Williams’ since the late 1970s, said, “He wasn’t returning calls as much. He would send texts and things like that, but they would get shorter and shorter.”

Williams struggled with drug and alcohol addiction early in his career and checked into rehab for continued sobriety early July of this year. He was also struggling with tens of millions of dollars in divorce settlements from his first two marriages. With Williams not bringing in as much money as he had earlier in his career, he found himself facing growing money problems.

When looking at the larger picture, it was obvious that Williams was struggling to keep his head above water. With his depression added in, life to Williams may have seemed impossible.

“I think Robin Williams was a brilliant comedian and actor. He brought life to many of my favorite childhood characters,” senior English education major Kara Anderson said. “I think he brought joy to so many people, and it’s really very sad that he couldn’t connect with that joy at the end.”

Although Williams’ death has been a loss to many, there has certainly been light that has shone in the darkness.

At Lines for Life in Southwest Portland, the number of calls to its Suicide Lifeline has doubled since Robin Williams’ death. The day after Williams’ death, the lifeline received 7,375 calls nationwide, which is the highest number of calls on one given day in the line’s history.

Line for Life chief operating officer, David Westbrook, said, “The rise in phone calls is coming mostly from those who have been concerned about another person for a while and have been prompted to act now.”

It is this kind of action people need to take. True change can be made once people start having those conversations and realizing that their loved one is struggling. When people can see that others care for their well-being and want to help them, it may just be enough for them to step away from the thought of suicide.

“It saddens me that it takes a public figure’s death to spark conversations about a very important and common struggle, that of depression,” sophomore nursing major Elizabeth ­­Nisly-Nagele said. “But I think some good can come of the discussion, as long as people remember to speak and act out of love and understanding.”

Robin Williams’ passing is one that the nation will mourn for quite some time. He wasn’t just an actor; for many, he was a part of their childhood. They grew up with his silliness, his jokes, his animation and most of all, his caring spirit.

“It didn’t matter if he was a blue bumble jumble flying out of a magic lamp singing songs and turning monkeys into elephants, or asking Matt Damon, ‘Have you ever looked into someone’s eyes and felt totally vulnerable and felt truly happy,’” acting major Joseph Bezenek said. “Everything that he did was honest and pure, which is why his death is so incredibly hard for me, and many, to bear.”

Even as more actors come onto the Hollywood scene, none will be able to compare to the man that Robin Williams was, or the legacy he left behind.