See Change ambassadors respond to the death of Robin Williams

“You do have a choice Choice”

Written by Mairéad Carey

“I am writing with a heavy heart as I am sure many people are after hearing of the death of Robin Williams. I have seen so many articles in the last few days around depression and suicide as everyone who writes tries to make sense of such a tragedy. The people who have written articles all have valid points in their own right but I just needed to write because it is hard reading so many articles on a topic that involves me personally. Yes I said personally, as I suffered and continue to suffer with depression and a few years back I battled suicidal ideation and intent.

It is hard viewing so many articles that come across (and I realise its un-intentional) as if they have the right definition and in dept perspective on depression and suicide. The thing I have learned through my own battles and meeting many people who have had depression is that depression is unique in every single person. Just as personality is unique, so is depression. The underlying symptoms of depression such as low mood, loss of appetite, loss of interest in activities, irritability are all essentially the same but every individual experiences these symptoms uniquely. No one symptom in one person is the same as the same symptom in another. All our thought processes are unique so each person battling depression has a unique depression.

Speculation around why Robin Williams died by suicide is exactly just that, it is speculation. Robin may have chose suicide for numerous reasons but reasons we may never know, reasons his family may never know and yes that is heart breaking. I do realise I have said he “chose” suicide and the reason I say this is because in reality we do have a choice. The other reality is that to a person who has depression it can seem like you do not have a choice. It can seem like all your problems are too overwhelming, that life in itself has no purpose. For those with depression it may seem as if there is no hope, you have battled for so long and the pain is just too much but the thing is you, YES YOU, you have the power to change this. A lot of articles are breathing despair treating depression as though permanent but it does not have to be this way. If you reach out you can take the first steps you need to change this pain. Suicide is not the answer, reaching out and talking is the answer. If you reach out you can get the help and support you need from either family, friends, counsellors or certain mental health organisations. People are willing to help you but you have to speak up first.

Talking for the first time may be the hardest thing you will ever do, it means been vulnerable and showing parts of yourself you have hidden for so long. But there is no shame in what you going through, there is no shame in having depression and there is no shame for having suicidal thoughts for these are responses to painful stimuli. If it is too hard to talk please write it down and show it to someone you trust. The most important step in recovering from depression and suicidal thoughts is speaking up.

When you begin to find your voice you will be able to increase your healthy coping skills and this in turn will minimise your pain and suffering. Suffering in silence can be deafening and can overwhelm you so please do not suffer alone. I am not saying any of this easy, battling depression and suicidal ideation is the hardest thing you will ever do in life but I promise you it gets better. I promise you this because I know, I have been fighting too.

It is possible to create a life where your suffering is minimal if not completely gone, it is possible to have a life where you are happy, it is possible to work through your problems and most importantly you can choose your own purpose in life, you can create who you are and what you want to be. Please do not get lost in the sea of written material that breathes despair as if you do not have a choice, please know in your darkest moments YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE. If your light of hope is gone out please let some else’s light shine for you until you find your own again. As the famous quote says: “suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse, it ends the chance of life getting better”.

(This article is not written in disrespect of other writers/articles etc. and it definitely is not written in disrespect of Robin Williams and hopefully Robin has found the peace he has ultimately searched for and lastly it is not written in disrespect to anyone who has lost the battle to suicide because as I said above it is the hardest battle you will ever face).”

“In the face of tragedy, it’s not all about helplines”


Written by Úna Kavanagh 

“When the news of Robin Williams’ death hit online, the reaction was almost like a chorus of praise, with people remembering his incredible characters and reflecting on the sadness that may have occurred in his life.

Like many people, I shared a number for the Samaritans, who are there 24/7 if one needs to talk, and then I gave myself time to think.

As a rule to myself, I think it’s important to share information on mental health on a regular basis, and not in the face of tragedy.

But from some reactions online it would almost seem like it’s more comforting for people to say “here’s the helpline, go find help!!”, rather than be the listener that people need in tough times.

There’s more to mental health than death and if you’re only pointing people to helplines in times of tragedy, you’ve already missed the signs.

Being able to listen is to me, one of the most important life skills a person can have. To be truly engaged with someone without judgement and to hear what they’re really saying, is a gift.

Look out for each other, and be there when you see someone struggling not matter how small those struggles may seem.

Stop telling people to “get help” and ensure that help is on hand. Yes, be able to voice how you’re feeling, but be the support, the listener, to a friend.

It’s great that people are talking, it’s great to see people’s reactions and it’s great that people are sharing information – but it shouldn’t take someone’s death to open up.”

“Spark of madness”


Written by Fiona Kennedy

“Robin Williams’ death is everywhere today, I was aware of it before I even got out of bed (thanks facebook). It’s been on my mind as to whether or not I would post something about it. I have really mixed feelings about the general furore that follows the death of a celebrity, whether accidental or in this case, probably not so much. On the one hand, depression is once again in the media, and that’s no bad thing. But on the other – why does it take the death of a celebrity to make that happen? People are dying by suicide every single day. Mental ill health will affect 1 in 3 people over the course of their lifetime, that’s a higher rate than cancer. But still, still, it takes something like this for it to be ok to talk about it. In fact, it almost seems obligatory to talk about it today.

Some days, I would give anything to be rid of my little spark of madness. Others, I’m grateful for it. Some days, I want to bang my head against a wall in frustration at the fact that a change in attitude towards mental illness is happening so painfully slowly. Then there are days like today when there are so many mixed feelings – a pang of sadness that someone else has thought suicide was the only option, recognition for what he must have been feeling, relief that I didn’t go down that road, fear that I may someday feel that badly again, hope that the lid is being further lifted on a difficult conversation, frustration that for the next couple of days it will be ok to admit to having depression or another mental illness, but once the dust settles, the cloak of silence will come back down and once more, mental health, or lack thereof, will be off the agenda.

There’s a depression bandwagon rolling today. I appreciate the irony of my lamenting that fact while at the same time writing about it, but it’s what’s on my mind. The difference for me though, as well as the countless others who have experienced mental illness, is that our issues won’t stop when the media looks away. Our need for help won’t go away just because it’s not the subject of the moment. This is a conversation that needs to continue, long term.”

Pieta House: 01 6010000
Samaritans: 116 123
Console: 1800 247 247
American Lifeline: 1800 273 8255

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