I was saddened to read that our national treasure, the actor, comedian, social activist, and my favorite alien, Robin Williams, died in an apparent suicide earlier today. According to his publicist, Williams had been battling severe depression, and yet another bid at a rehab center for substance abuse. I’m not going to eulogize him because you already know all about his work and how freaking funny the guy was. And if you don’t, then it doesn’t matter anyway. What I will say is that depression is a serious issue I’ve seen affect friends and acquaintances over the years—yes, even those with saccharine Instagram and Facebook pages. Social networking is great but on the flip-side it makes it too tempting for people who need help, a shoulder to cry on, or some serious intervention, to make shit up. You know folks like I do that inflate their personas out of desperation, wanting to make themselves believe they are as slap-happy as they want you to believe they are. I’m not encouraging you to pull the rug out from underneath someone you suspect is fronting. I am, however, suggesting you take a few moments to reach out to your friends and loved ones on the phone or, preferably, in person, and ask how they are doing—Really, how are you doing? Also, if this person is you and you want to talk to someone anonymously, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”