The death of Robin Williams has consumed our media feeds and our minds the last few days. While tragic, the conversations it has spurred around mental health are powerful and important. The state of mental health in the United States is deplorable. Despite the uptick in school shootings and high profile suicides and addiction-related deaths, mental health services continue to be cut and devalued.
After the death of Williams, a friend of mine who works with those at high risk of suicide posted that many are afraid to talk about suicide because they fear it will actually push a person in that direction. She says it’s not true; in fact, talking openly about mental health is an important first step in helping those who are suffering.
The internet has been flooded with beautiful memes over the last week, but this one in reference to an Italian opera, is my favorite. Because our society has made the conversation of mental health taboo, many who are suffering are covering their illness by playing the clown. The conversations had over social media and in the media this week are an important first step in helping lift the veil of mental illness.
As the Academy so poignantly tweeted upon his death, “Genie, you’re free.” RIP Robin Williams.