NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the world mourns the death of Robin Williams, perhaps the most perplexing thing about the apparent suicide is what drives a person with the world seemingly at his feet to end his life.
As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, last year nearly 40,000 people committed suicide in the United States — much more than those who died in motor vehicle accidents and more than twice as many as homicides.
The one common denominator in most of the nation’s suicides is depression, Dr. Gomez reported.
“Life is extraordinary, I don’t want to miss it,” Williams said while speaking with CBS’ Charlie Rose on his PBS show.
Yet behind his manic comic genius and his delight in making people laugh, lurked the demon that eventually took Williams’ life: depression.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Robin Goodman said it’s almost impossible for someone who hasn’t experienced profound depression to understand how it could drive such a beloved figure to take his own life.
“People are so depressed and the pain is so tremendous, they feel like it’s the only way to feel better and get relief,” Dr. Goodman said. “And it’s drastic, but if you think about it, their brain is not thinking the right way…and what they’re really thinking about is I just want to get out of this pain and this seems to be the solution.”
Even worse, Williams was battling multiple demons, including substance abuse. Again, the actor was very open about it, Dr. Gomez reported.
“Not only did I inhale but I snorted everything,” Williams said.
“It’s called numbing. When you’re numb, you’re not depressed,” said comedian Stewie Stone.
But once you sober up, Stone said the pain is still there, much like when a comic steps off stage.
“Living off stage is difficult because you have to face your problems, you have to deal with your insecurities because we’re all insecure” Stone said.
Williams had reportedly been seeking treatment for depression and substance abuse.
Dr. Gomez said it’s important to realize that there is help for mental illness; talk therapy, medications and more can often help sufferers cope, recover and prevent suicide. Unfortunately, no treatment is 100 percent successful.
Check Out These Other Stories From CBSNewYork.com: