August 12, 2014

"He could go anywhere in the world — and stay in the best hotel..."

"... and he chose to go where anyone can go — and take a flier on the accommodations."

I say, in a comment at Facebook.

93 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

Maybe money isn't everything?

mrs.e said...

It wasn't a fair fight.

Unknown said...

He was a troubled man from the beginning. It seemed from the outside as though he'd reached a stable place.

cubanbob said...

Pretty snarky and uncalled for. From all accounts I've read he was a loving caring father and an overall decent guy so for a guy like him to do himself in I have to believe he must of felt himself to be in intolerable pain.

Brando said...

That's the maddening thing about depression--it knows no rationality. It's what makes it so difficult to treat.

Sad that it had to end that way.

Anonymous said...

Re: "He could go anywhere in the world — and stay in the best hotel and he chose to go where anyone can go — and take a flier on the accommodations..."

Maybe he didn't really like traveling? Some people are like that. Planes, etc.

If what is inside you is the cause of the pain a fancy hotel somewhere else doesn't change that -- it is your own carry-on luggage that is with you, always.

Ad campaign: "Wanting to kill yourself? Try our Hotel first"*

*Please be considerate of our cleaning help. You know: if.
"
Ad Campaign #2: Wanting to kill yourself and are rich? Come to Bucketlist.com where we will plan excursions you can joylessly experience and mark off an imaginary sheet of paper so people at your funeral can say you lived life to its fullest."

I dislike the premise of the original statement. And I am not (usually) Terrible Reading Comprehension Guy.





Ann Althouse said...

"Pretty snarky and uncalled for."

Do you say that because you are certain there is no afterlife or because you didn't think enough about what I wrote?

Robin Williams made a movie about the afterlife in which he has to deal with his suicide wife's predicament in hell. The movie is titled "What Dreams May Come," a reference to the Hamlet soliloquy:

To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.


Think about it.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

Your son doesn't understand depression:

It's an extremely-heavy wet blanket, that you try to "choose" to keep from smothering you - but fail - because it was thrown over "you," from the inside, where it can't be touched.

I feel the gloom come over me, at least, once a month. I've got better protection than most - having never expected love from anyone - but it's still not easy to survive it. I get close because I know all the tricks:

A well-timed header, off a freeway overpass, will fix most folks up just fine - no effort required - just fall forward.

I saw a gay guy, a few days ago, cutting scars down the length of both arms. My thought?

"Some people can't do anything right,..."

Ann Althouse said...

Ad campaign: It's like you died and went to heaven.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Think about it."

People in the throes of depression usually do.

John Lynch said...

It's possible to be depressed and not murder yourself. You make the choice to wait it out.

I'm bothered by the modern tendency to explain choices by invoking mental illness. People who are mentally ill have agency. They still make choices. They are still responsible for their choices.

Killing yourself because you are depressed is like killing someone else because you are angry. So what? The intensity of an emotion doesn't justify the act.

cubanbob said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Pretty snarky and uncalled for."

Do you say that because you are certain there is no afterlife or because you didn't think enough about what I wrote?"

I read your comment at the link. It sounds like a dismissive comment on his suicide. My belief or disbelief in the afterlife is not relevant. Yes I knew about his movie. Saw it and while I found it visually attractive nevertheless it was disturbing even with the 'happy' ending. What were Williams beliefs with respects to God and the afterlife I don't know. The only thing that I or anyone else can know about his suicide is that something was sufficiently intolerable for him at that moment to cause him to destroy himself-an act that goes against the primal instinct of every living creature to live.

Anonymous said...

John Lynch said... "I'm bothered by the modern tendency to explain choices by invoking mental illness. People who are mentally ill have agency. They still make choices. They are still responsible for their choices."

Talk to a depressed schizophrenic who has watched the medications slowly stop working over the years, and nothing else helps. Watch this person and see the progression, helpless. Yes, still a choice, and we will judge the choice without ever seeing everything that was on one side of the scale.

If someone experience anger 24/7 for years on end we would say it wasn't just an emotion but a mental problem. And if it is a mental problem maybe there are magic pills. Maybe they work for awhile, and then they don't.And a choice comes up.

Understand the point of view, don't agree with it.


The Crack Emcee said...

John Lynch,

"It's possible to be depressed and not murder yourself. You make the choice to wait it out."

Indeed, that's why we're talking.

"The intensity of an emotion doesn't justify the act."

Ahh, but narcissists think their feelings are everything, and - thanks to the hippies glomming their NewAge bullshit to the Civil Rights Movement - we can't talk them out of it now.

They think it's their heritage, and the culture supports them in thinking that, as readily as it allows them "karma" and "we only use 10% of our brains" and all the rest of this cockamamy misinformation the rest of us have to spend our lives debunking and enduring.

The problems it causes never gets the same attention,...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The Crack Emcee said...

I've got better protection than most - having never expected love from anyone...

That does make sense out of things.

Quaestor said...

How mind-boggling that someone who had it all — fame, fortune, and freedom to do whatever he wanted — apparently saw no better course than to end it all.

Not mind-boggling at all. If one has everything the culture teaches us to value -- money, fame, admiration -- and one is still unhappy then ending it all would be a logical course of action. If $100 million doesn't make you happy, then $200 million is unlikely to improve matters.

Happiness is so elusive. If you've got it flaunt, baby, flaunt it.

m stone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
m stone said...

Agreed that your comment was snarky at first reading.

I think you and your son make suicide a "choice," and not one that people are driven to. Not a willing choice for many.

We don't know just how far we can be pushed. Depression is horrible.

Having said that, I also know that God in His graciousness will never let us be pushed beyond what we can handle. If we believe.

If you believe the philosophy from "What Dreams May Come," I'd think twice.

John Lynch said...

betamax-

I've been there, OK? I've spent years clinically depressed, with all kinds of other problems. My family has had schizophrenics, manic-depressives, autistic-spectrum, and even a drunk. I'm not talking out of my ass. I've looked at the abyss.

The only way out of it is to have something other than your own thoughts as a guide. You can't check out on everyone and everything because it's too damn hard. You can't be an asshole and kill yourself because it's easy and you don't care anymore. That's the epitome of being a selfish jerk. Yeah, it can be easier to die. Easy doesn't mean right.

What I found about depression is that it was ultimately situational. I changed my circumstances and I felt better. I changed how I thought and how I lived. Now, if I feel really bad I can just sit around and do nothing and that's OK. It's not the end of the world if I check out for a few days.

Have sympathy for the people that tough it out, not for those that quit.

FullMoon said...

Just my opinion, but a "considerate father and husband" rich guy with access to drugs doesn't hang himself. He showers and shaves and dresses nice and overdoses.

Locks the bedroom door and puts a note on it so his wife or kids know what to expect.

Unknown said...

The Crack Emcee response to John Lynch at 8/12/14, 8:56 AM is incredibly ironic.

khesanh0802 said...

Ann;

There is a exponential difference between "everyday" depression and clinical depression. Read Wiliam Styron's "Darkness Visible" for a frightening, autobiographical take on it.

Clinical depression is very hard to understand for those who are on the outside. The depression we suffer from a family death, a divorce, a move, or other emotional trauma is a walk in the park compared to serious clinical depression. There are pills and for some they work very well. They did and do for me, but 30 years later I am still wondering how I could have done the stupid things ( and I mean everyday stupid, not big league stupid - of course I did a few of those too) that I did while under the influence of a severe bout of clinical depression.

During counseling it became obvious that I had suffered from periods of clinical depression all my life. They came in cycles and with each cycle they became worse until in my early forties I went completely out of control. I contemplated suicide frequently, but fortunately, could never figure out how to do it without making a big mess for my family to clean up. I essentially ran in place for the next ten years while I worked out counseling and medication.

I don't understand why so many creative people (not me) have such a hard time with clinical depression. Robin William's talent is a loss, but I can't help but be sympathetic that his world became so black that he felt he had to exit it.

The Crack Emcee said...

khesanh0802,

"I don't understand why so many creative people (not me) have such a hard time with clinical depression."

It's easy - aside from chemicals working you mind, or maybe because of them - you see what others don't.

I see a homeless black person and my heart aches - from slavery - whites see them and try to find another route, no feelings attached but their own well-being. They understand the (obvious) connection, but deliberately choose to lie to themselves.

Which - as I keep saying - is ANOTHER form of mental illness,...

Anonymous said...

Diamond David Lee Roth says about Depression:

When I am confronted with depression I remember: I been to the edge, an’ there I stood an’ looked down; you know I lost a lot of friends there, baby, I got no time to mess around.

Anonymous said...

Diamond David Lee Roth says about Depression:

When I am confronted with depression I remember: Change, ain't nothin' stays the same. Unchained, yeah ya hit the ground runnin'.

Anonymous said...

Diamond David Lee Roth says about Depression:

When I am confronted with depression I remember: just reach down between my legs and Ease the seat back.

Anonymous said...

Diamond David Lee Roth says about Depression:

When I am confronted with depression I remember: I am a victim of the science age, A child of the storm. I can't remember when I was your age -- For me! It says no more, no more.

Yet...

Nobody rules these streets at night but me, The Atomic Punk!

Freeman Hunt said...

People need to quit saying "You don't know what depression is like!" Plenty of people know exactly what depression is like and think suicide is a horrible thing to do and that a depressed person should not do it.

Larry J said...

In WWI, pilots didn't wear parachutes. Their planes had no armor protection, either. When struck by bullets, the planes often caught fire. The pilots were faced with a choice: ride the plane in as it burns, jump to your death, or shoot yourself with your service pistol. Do we judge them harshly for committing suicide in the face of certain death?

On 9/11, many people trapped in the Twin Towers faced a similar decision: stay in the building and risk suffication or burning to death, or jump. Quite a few jumped. Do we judge them harshly for committing suicide in the face of certain death?

From my limited understanding of clinical depression, the pain those people feel can become as unbearable as those WWI pilots or people trapped in the Twin Towers. Some of them choose to escape the pain via suicide. That seems to me quite different from those people who kill themselves over an embarrassment ("a permanent solution to a temporary problem").

Anonymous said...

Plenty of people know exactly what depression is like and think suicide is a horrible thing to do and that a depressed person should not do it but are compelled to do it anyway.

Freeman Hunt said...

From my limited understanding of clinical depression, the pain those people feel can become as unbearable as those WWI pilots or people trapped in the Twin Towers.

Nonsense. In no way is clinical depression like being on fire. Additionally, clinically depressed people are not facing certain death.

Anonymous said...

Plenty of people know exactly what depression is like: it is like closing your eyes and knowing what it is to be blind. No fair peeking.

Freeman Hunt said...

They are not compelled. They may really want to do it, but they have a choice. Suicide is selfish. There's no getting around that.

Freeman Hunt said...

Plenty of people know exactly what depression is like: it is like closing your eyes and knowing what it is to be blind. No fair peeking.

No. Plenty of people have experienced clinical depression with suicidal ideation and therefore know exactly what it is like.

khesanh0802 said...

@ Freeman Hunt;

Usually I find myself on your wave length, but in this case I must take exception.

Yes, plenty of people know what depression is. Clinical depression is a different animal. As Crack says the chemicals in your brain are not working right and no matter how much will power you have (at other times I have proven that I have plenty) it does you no good. You have lost control and you aren't even aware of that loss of control - that is what is so dangerous.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm talking about clinical depression.

Does anyone saying, "Oh, how sad. He couldn't help it," think that they are saying something helpful to depressed people?

A depressed person reading this page does not need to read some sweet sounding lie that will help him ease off into oblivion.

Dealing with depression by suicide is a choice, and it's horrendously selfish. Don't do it.

khesanh0802 said...

@ Freeman Hunt

I was responding to your 0953 post. Your subsequent posts show you do understand the difference between "ordinary" and clinical depression.

Birches said...

Wow. Adam Lanza. Good point.

The Crack Emcee said...

The Roots' Questlove wrote a nice reflection on Robin Williams, that touched on his own depression - emphasis mine:

"Sometimes when you put 20 hour days in you do think it’s for naught and that it goes thankless. Grammy time is somewhat of a dark time simply because you just walk around asking yourself is it worth it or not: all the sweat and blood. I just felt like (despite winning grammy the year before) no one really cares all that much for us except for a select few. Especially in that environment I’m in which people treat you like minions until they discover what you can do for them…if you’re not a strong character you run the risk of letting it get to you. This particular Sunday we were walking backstage and had to ride the elevator to the backstage area and we piled inside when suddenly this voice just said “questlove…..black thought….rahzel….the roots from Philadelphia!!!! That’s right you walked on this elevator saying to yourself “ain’t no way this old white dude knows my entire history and discography”….we laughed so hard. That NEVER happened to is before. Someone a legend acknowledged us and really knew who we were (his son put him on to us) man it was a small 2 min moment in real life but that meant the world to me at the time. Everytime I saw him afterwards he tried to top his trivia knowledge on all things Roots associated. Simply because he knew that meant everything to me. May his family find peace at this sad time. I will miss Robin Williams. #RIP."

Needless to say, white people, generally, could do so much better - and be so much more to others - if this wasn't such a surprising occurrence.

Instead they surround us with "that's not music" and "you're no good" and - after slavery and Jim Crow - they still tell the lie we never did anything significant.

Even after electing a black president.

It's just a damned shame what a stubborn mess they've made of things,...

The Crack Emcee said...

Freeman Hunt,

"They are not compelled. They may really want to do it, but they have a choice. Suicide is selfish. There's no getting around that."

Nah, Free - it's not that simple. I'm only here through practice. I get depressed, lock myself away from others as much as possible, and then try to maintain the fetal position until it passes. Otherwise, I'm in serious trouble.

In the beginning, depression is a lot like Alzheimer's, where the afflicted isn't aware what's happening - which is why they go for it - suicide appearing to be the "obvious" and "natural" answer.

If you live through that, and learn from it, you'll see life goes on - the sun comes around again - and that makes the next time somewhat more manageable, though no less bearable. Hence, the guy I saw, with the scars.

One reason I recently had to leave Oregon was it's racism - plus the constant rain - were making it too difficult for me to function. Seriously.

And I'm talking just getting out of bed,...

The Crack Emcee said...

BTW - in Free's defense:

Years ago, some horrible shit was going on with black kids getting killed (surprise!) and I slid way down - fast - didn't eat for a week, etc. I hadn't even noticed, really, caught up in following the news, etc.

Anyway, this white dude, Tony, he noticed, and assaulted me - violently - when I didn't immediately answer the door. Tony was huge - a "corn-fed white boy" as we say - and he was all "Fuck you, Man! Not on my watch! Fuck this shit!"

He didn't leave my side until I washed up, got dressed, and joined him out for a steak dinner.

It worked.

Not a permanent solution, but one worthy of an ass-kicking,...

harrogate said...

"but I strongly disagree that someone who's depressed has no self-control or responsibility for their actions."

It's as though he is thinking of depression as just, being sad. As though "suck it up!" is about all one needs to do.

Such a radical commitment to what one might smugly describe as "free will" but what sneaks up behind one as, in truth, stigmatizing mental illness.

If he had coughed up blood in the final death throes of lung cancer, of course, there would be no "I strongly disagree that he couldn't keep the blood inside him!"

But the brain is magic and impervious and choice is choice, right?

Quaestor said...

It would be interesting to know what, if any, drug therapy Williams was under when he took his life.

Lately there's been a rash of suicides among Army and Marine Corps veterans returning from Afghanistan. Most of these veterans had been diagnosed with some degree of what is euphemistically called post traumatic stress disorder. From what I've read of the literature available to the lay reader the standard therapy involves usually SSRIs like Prozac. Since most of these returning vets are in their twenties the risk of antidepressant-induced suicide is high, yet the monitoring protocol seems to have largely failed to reduce this known risk. (This may well be another VA scandal a-brewing.) Psychiatrists treating returning WWII vets for combat fatigue, which is today included within the PTSD spectrum, did not have SSRIs available as therapy options, yet the rate of suicide was lower among those veterans than among Afghan war vets, at least in early life.

Williams was certainly not a PTSD victim, nor was he a twenty-something, however, antidepressants do contribute to the risk of suicide in older people. Questions need to be asked.

Martha said...

Drudge links to an article reporting Robin Williams had big money problems exacerbated by the cancellation of his tv show The Crazy Ones in May. Life was not all that ro$y.


http://radaronline.com/exclusives/2014/08/robin-williams-had-serious-money-troubles-in-months-before-his-death-claims-friend-was-the-pressure-too-much/

Birches said...

Sure depression is a disease, but when someone has cancer, we don't say, "there's nothing you can do, give up!"

garage mahal said...

Dealing with depression by suicide is a choice, and it's horrendously selfish. Don't do it

Depression is a fucking liar. Perhaps Williams (and others) didn't even see suicide as death. What a wicked disease that tells you that you are undeserving of accolades and love from everyone around the world.

harrogate said...

"Sure depression is a disease, but when someone has cancer, we don't say, 'there's nothing you can do, give up!'"

Look, I see your point. But please consider that while nobody tells the body-under-siege-by-cancer to give up, too-often it just does. Nobody tells the brain-under-siege-by-depression to give up either, but all too often it just does.

harrogate said...

Crack, that story about your friend Tony is great. He sounds like a damn good friend. All we can do is try to help one another.

mrs.e said...

Dealing with depression by suicide is a choice, and it's horrendously selfish. Don't do it.

Though true, a person with a strong case of the 'fuck-its' is going to have a hard time hearing that.

Something to remember is that Williams was actively battling his demons - facing them once or a thousand times a day. He won every battle, until he didn't. He let down his guard just once. That's all it took.

Anonymous said...

"... and he chose to go where anyone can go..."
He was researching.

Extreme creative people suffer extreme mood swings: maniac-depressive. They reach their high in creativity when the sky is the limit, then they go down to the abyss...

John Stodder said...

After reading this thread and the one on Facebook, I'm frustrated at the ignorance that is being shown by otherwise intelligent people about the debilitating effects of depression. There's plenty out there to read about it, and generally it doesn't support any of your assumptions. To prattle on about "agency" and so forth in the face of what is known is letting ideology overwhelm evidence. But why the ideology? Can't you just accept that some people with depression reach a point where the pain affects their reason and destroys their will to go on? You, your son and too many commenters have missed the repeated citation of "pain" as a key part of extreme depression. You've never heard of anyone using suicide to achieve a surcease of pain?

P.S. I do think increased awareness of mental health factors in crime will eventually affect sentencing policy. So that's no counter-argument at all -- just a case of the criminal justice system needing to catch up with well-established science.

The Crack Emcee said...

Quaestor,

"Williams was certainly not a PTSD victim, nor was he a twenty-something, however, antidepressants do contribute to the risk of suicide in older people. Questions need to be asked."

My experience with antidepressants, after my wife's antics, were not good,...

The Crack Emcee said...

harrogate,

"Crack, that story about your friend Tony is great. He sounds like a damn good friend. All we can do is try to help one another."

Indeed. A lot of good people I've known are eccentrics:

Tony studied to be a brain surgeon, and then quit on the last day to travel the world. When I asked him why he quit, he said, "I just wanted to know how to do it."

The higher-ups were NOT happy,...

The Crack Emcee said...

elkh1,

"Extreme creative people suffer extreme mood swings: maniac-depressive. They reach their high in creativity when the sky is the limit, then they go down to the abyss..."

Which is why I just need to work,...

Birches said...

I agree with you harrogate. And I'm not going to condemn anyone already dead. But I think our society has a responsibility to continue to stigmatize and discourage suicide (not depression, suicide) so that it continues to be a rare occurrence.

I've got a family member that's tried once; the only reason she's alive is because a hiker miraculously found her unconscious and there was an ambulance miraculously close to the mountain.

Sometimes, if we're too sympathetic to the result of the disease, those who already aren't in their right minds might think, "Hey, Robin Williams had it pretty good in the end. Look at the outpouring he's getting now..."

Birches said...

I know that was a factor with my family member. She just wanted to be loved whether she was around for it or not...

Ann Althouse said...

"I read your comment at the link. It sounds like a dismissive comment on his suicide."

The comment relates to John's suggestion that being very rich ought to keep one away from suicide. The joke bounces off thar.

"My belief or disbelief in the afterlife is not relevant. Yes I knew about his movie. Saw it and while I found it visually attractive nevertheless it was disturbing even with the 'happy' ending. What were Williams beliefs with respects to God and the afterlife I don't know. The only thing that I or anyone else can know about his suicide is that something was sufficiently intolerable for him at that moment to cause him to destroy himself-an act that goes against the primal instinct of every living creature to live."

You would not say that about a murderer of another person who felt overwhelmed by hatred and anger. I think you are undervaluing the suicide's victim and giving priority to the victim's murderer, who deserves condemnation. I am speaking, as I can only speak, to the living. You must resist the impulse to commit murder. It never becomes permissible out of hate or anger at the victim. Your opinion that he is hopeless and worthless does not justify murdering him.

Ann Althouse said...

"After reading this thread and the one on Facebook, I'm frustrated at the ignorance that is being shown by otherwise intelligent people about the debilitating effects of depression..."

You are claiming to see ignorance when what you are seeing is discussion of a topic from a perspective that troubles you. The continual insistence on seeing it your way brings no new light. We do understand. If this were a murder of another, you would not go on and on about how powerful anger and hate are and keep objecting to our demand that the violent person is responsible.

Anonymous said...

@birches

I have a lot of depression on one side of my family, so this hits close to home. I disagree that "stigmatizing" does anything good. A society that stigmatizes others for whatever reason is a society that is harder for sensitives and depressives to handle. They already feel it more than others. Trying to shame them on top of it like beating a homeless guy for being unemployed.

It is cruel.

It amazes me to read a lot of ppl saying that,"he always seemed so up, what an actor he must have been." These must be very sheltered ppl. To anyone that has either been manic or depressive or had it in their family, the pain/raw feeling side of Robin Williams' trickster was obvious.

John Stodder said...

"If this were a murder of another, you would not go on and on about how powerful anger and hate are and keep objecting to our demand that the violent person is responsible."

But where do you get the idea that suicide is, in essence, murder (of oneself)? The motives that would drive a clinically depressed person to commit suicide are nothing like the motives for murder.

If it is comparable to anything that would into a legal definition of murder, it would be mercy killing. A clinically depressed person does not hate themselves or rage at themselves in the way a murderous person might feel such emotions about their intended victim. That person is, instead, receiving a constant pain signal. That signal is not personified as an "other" to rage at. It is perceived more like an inanimate object -- a torturous trap -- from which suicide is perceived as the only escape.

In a mercy killing, as suggested by the term itself, the murderer acts out of love or kindness, not rage, in response presumably to entreaties by the victim to end their unbearable pain. The suicide, too, might well be acting out of love, of themselves.

I'm not defending all suicides, of course. Some suicides are acts of hatred, but the hatred is aimed at one or more of the survivors and the point is to inflict pain on them. I know someone who did that to her parents. That's certainly an immoral act. There are also ritualized or political suicides -- famously the Vietnamese Buddhist monk who lit himself on fire in protest. To some degree you could argue these are rational acts, horrible but rational.

But if Williams was indeed clinically depressed, his suicide was escape from torment, not an act of self-hatred. The framing of it as rageful murder of oneself and thus sanctionable is just flat wrong.

Lydia said...

harrogate said...All we can do is try to help one another.

Amen to that.

And also to this from Birches: I'm not going to condemn anyone already dead. But I think our society has a responsibility to continue to stigmatize and discourage suicide (not depression, suicide) so that it continues to be a rare.

Note that Birches said we should stigmatize suicide, not that we should stigmatize depression.

Ann Althouse said...

"But where do you get the idea that suicide is, in essence, murder (of oneself)?"

Because that is literally what it is. How do you get the idea that it isn't?


suicide (n.)... "deliberate killing of oneself," 1650s, from Modern Latin suicidium "suicide," from Latin sui "of oneself" (genitive of se "self"), from PIE *s(u)w-o- "one's own," from root *s(w)e- (see idiom) + -cidium "a killing" (see -cide). Probably an English coinage; much maligned by Latin purists because it "may as well seem to participate of sus, a sow, as of the pronoun sui" [Phillips]. The meaning "person who kills himself deliberately" is from 1728. In Anglo-Latin, the term for "one who commits suicide" was felo-de-se, literally "one guilty concerning himself." Even in 1749, in the full blaze of the philosophic movement, we find a suicide named Portier dragged through the streets of Paris with his face to the ground, hung from a gallows by his feet, and then thrown into the sewers; and the laws were not abrogated till the Revolution, which, having founded so many other forms of freedom, accorded the liberty of death. [W.E.H. Lecky, "History of European Morals," 1869] In England, suicides were legally criminal if of age and sane, but not if judged to have been mentally deranged. The criminal ones were mutilated by stake and given degrading burial in highways until 1823...

Ann Althouse said...

Obviously, we don't perform that sort of theater anymore. It's cruel to the survivors, but we've gone to the opposite extreme of silencing anything with a tinge of condemnation.

Ann Althouse said...

From the (unsinkable) OED:

suicide, n.

One who dies by his own hand; one who commits self-murder. Also, one who attempts or has a tendency to commit suicide.
Not in Johnson 1755. For earlier synonyms see self-destroyer n., self-killer n. at self-killed adj. Derivatives, self-murderer n., self-slayer n. at self-slain adj. Derivatives.

1732 London Mag. 1 252 The Suicide owns himself..unequal to the Troubles of Life.
1769 W. Blackstone Comm. Laws Eng. iv. xiv. 189 The suicide is guilty of a double offence: one spiritual, in invading the prerogative of the Almighty..: the other temporal, against the king.
1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scotl. 953 The wounds inflicted by a suicide upon himself are usually in the front, and in an oblique direction.
1860 F. Nightingale Notes on Nursing (rev. ed.) xiii. 168 A fourth [patient], who is a depressed suicide, requires a little cheering.
1870 R. C. Jebb Sophocles' Electra (ed. 2) 47/1 Suicides used to be interred with a stake through the body, ‘to lay the ghost’.

Pete said...

Althouse said: "We do understand. If this were a murder of another, you would not go on and on about how powerful anger and hate are and keep objecting to our demand that the violent person is responsible."

I know you prefer to stay mysterious, but are you saying Williams was responsible for taking his own life, despite his depression? Be clear, please.

John Stodder said...

>>"But where do you get the idea that suicide is, in essence, murder (of oneself)?"

Because that is literally what it is. How do you get the idea that it isn't?<<

Oh my God. Do I really get to haul out the "you, a lawyer" trope on you? But isn't murder a legal concept, something that a judge or jury ultimately determines? Not all killings of one human by another are murder. In the looser, non-legal linguistic world, we don't say a suicide "murdered" themselves, we say, accurately, that they killed themselves. In no U.S. state is suicide (or attempted suicide, more to the point) treated as a crime anymore. You can be committed involuntary for mental health care in some states if you survive the attempt or show indications of suicidal thoughts, but that's a civil action.

If there was a way to effectuate your notion that suicide and murder are the same thing, thus allowing you to prosecute in absentia all suicides as murderers, those who committed suicide owing to clinical depression would win every case by claiming diminished capacity. Freeman Hunt keeps asserting that suicide is always a choice, but for the clinically depressed, that is not what the record shows.

Nichevo said...

http://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2014/aug/12/robin-williams-suicide-and-depression-are-not-selfish?CMP=fb_gu

cubanbob said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I read your comment at the link. It sounds like a dismissive comment on his suicide."

The comment relates to John's suggestion that being very rich ought to keep one away from suicide. The joke bounces off thar.

"My belief or disbelief in the afterlife is not relevant. Yes I knew about his movie. Saw it and while I found it visually attractive nevertheless it was disturbing even with the 'happy' ending. What were Williams beliefs with respects to God and the afterlife I don't know. The only thing that I or anyone else can know about his suicide is that something was sufficiently intolerable for him at that moment to cause him to destroy himself-an act that goes against the primal instinct of every living creature to live."

You would not say that about a murderer of another person who felt overwhelmed by hatred and anger. I think you are undervaluing the suicide's victim and giving priority to the victim's murderer, who deserves condemnation. I am speaking, as I can only speak, to the living. You must resist the impulse to commit murder. It never becomes permissible out of hate or anger at the victim. Your opinion that he is hopeless and worthless does not justify murdering him.
8/12/14, 3:05 PM

Yes I get the point that you are making that a suicide is not only a victim but a murderer. However not all homicides are murders let alone premeditated murders and there is where your premise falls apart. You don't know the motivation for his self-destruction so therefore you can only know that he destroyed himself and thus cannot say with a certainty that he committed an act of murder on himself. Unless he left some sort of note or something that would lead one to believe that it was hate and anger that lead to his self destruction we do not know if at the time of his suicide if he even fully understood that he was about to commit a killing. All that we can know as I said before all living creatures including humans have as the the most basic of impulses the instinct to live. Something extraordinarily powerful has to override the most basic impulse to live. As others have commented here using 9/11 as an example where some chose to leap to their deaths rather than burn to death maybe in William's mind that was a comparable choice for him. I am not making a case for suicide, I think it's almost never the right choice-one can always come up with some hypothetical extreme case where suicide is preferable but considering how strong the will to live is and how hard people cling to life almost no matter what unless there is evidence to suggest that the suicide was intended to hurt others I just feel bad for the victim and for the family and loved ones of the victim and not judge them so harshly as defining them as murderers.

kimsch said...

John Stoddard said:

If there was a way to effectuate your notion that suicide and murder are the same thing, thus allowing you to prosecute in absentia all suicides as murderers, those who committed suicide owing to clinical depression would win every case by claiming diminished capacity. Freeman Hunt keeps asserting that suicide is always a choice, but for the clinically depressed, that is not what the record shows.

We certainly can't ask the successful suicide if they made the right decision. The only 'record' is that of unsuccessful attempts. There are also those who try, and then change their minds. Some do so successfully, some not so successfully with permanent damage, and others are unsuccessful, but we can't ask them.

No matter how bad life seems to be, no matter how much pain there is, suicide is still a choice. Action must be taken, whatever the chosen method.

The suicide leaves behind all his loved ones. The suicide leaves a mess, physical, financial,and psychological. He leaves his loved ones wondering if they could have done more, or seen something - adding unnecessary guilt to the grief.

harrogate said...

What we are seeing on the fb thread and from Althouse and a couple other commenters here (certainly Freeman) is a thorough devotion to positivist doctrine.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Over-Reacting Betamax says:

Discussions on depression, rational thought with depression, decisions decisions religion decisions.

So.

Have applied the electric pad to the top of your gelled head. No earrings or jewelry: obvious. Now a pad on the right side (gel). Anesthesia, 10 9 8 7 6 etc. You're drugged -- you don't feel this (I think): electricity now runs hard between the two pads. Your body would convulse except for the special medication along with the anesthesia: only your brain convulses. This is possible because you have weaned off your meds, many of which serve as -- imagine! -- anti-convulsives.

You wake up to a orange juice sippee cup, and maybe a cookie. By the way: this is all in the hospital basement. You have to travel down to the maintenance and shipping level where this is still allowed to occur: shhhhhhh - its a secret.

Now: this happens three times a week to begin. One, two, three weeks and then it is only twice! Meanwhile, short-term memory is obliterated: be prepared to re-introduce yourself to the same Starbucks (1st floor) barista one, two, three weeks and then it is only twice!

The washing machine: this is now heavy machinery. Accept that you can't figure how to operate it like you did over and over for years before.

People say 'its no big thing' they forget things, too. Still, they get upset when you can't bring their name to mind.

By the way: physical balance? Fucked.

I f all goes well you will resume your medications and repeat this in a year or two.

It is jsut depression and you can make a rational choice. If you remember what 'rational' is -- it may or may not come back, we'll see.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Everyone who has had ECT raise your hands in the air and say 'you know me'.

Anonymous said...

"The continual insistence on seeing it your way brings no new light."

Sometimes there IS no new light. Perhaps fuck those who believe they are the revered ones who can see the new light.

Everything under the sun etc etc.

Think about it again after the electricity has run through your brain. You would think a light bulb would be lit, but no, you just should be happy to remember a password. Don't worry: you won't.

Anonymous said...

Something about the young John Lennon at a Beatles royalty performance asking the poor to clap and the rich to rattle their jewelry.

Anonymous said...

Wait: who died? I forgot. ha.

Anonymous said...

William Robins? Did I go to school with him? Hairy? Not bringing it to mind...

John Stodder said...

"The suicide leaves behind all his loved ones. The suicide leaves a mess, physical, financial,and psychological. He leaves his loved ones wondering if they could have done more, or seen something - adding unnecessary guilt to the grief."

Yes. Of course. That is all very bad. Suicide is certainly not to be encouraged.

Jeez, what I'm saying is not meant to minimize the tragedy or the effects of suicide on survivors. What I'm challenging is the sense that some of you have that it is ALWAYS a rational and thus selfish choice. In the depths of the pain of clinical depression, it's not at all clear that, for those individuals, you can rightly describe it that way.

Because of a pending property sale, I'm immersed in family history right now. We have a suicide in the family tree, and some of the old letters I've dug up attempt to tell that story. The fact is, the act was not rational. It had the trappings of rationality, in that he left no note, and instead left fake evidence that could have led his children to conclude it was an accident. This showed he had the ability to plan and to think in a sort of half-baked way of how he might minimize the blow to his children. The loss of his children to an international divorce, which kept them far away from him for all but a few days per year, was the proximate cause of his despair. But a rational person would have been able to figure out a plan to increase the amount of time with his kids by moving overseas, or perhaps might have decided that even a little of his time was valuable to his kids, so he should buck up and deal with the circumstance. But the fact is, underlying the immediate issue of his children's custody, the man was deeply depressed and had been for most of his life. It was the cause of his divorce. It was remarked upon by all his family members. He took me to see a football game a few months before this happened, and cried throughout the game. He was deeply, clinically depressed. The pain was too much, it overwhelmed him, and he couldn't find a way to make it go away.

Does that mean I support what he did? Of course not. Does that mean I minimize the ongoing effects on his kids? Are you nuts? His death impacts their lives to this day, and it happened 45 years ago. But Ann would have me look at him as a murderer. This simply does not hold water. He wasn't eliminating himself, he was eliminating the pain of living, which he saw no "rational" way to overcome, because he'd lived with it for decades and it was finally too much.

Anonymous said...

Hairy? Sasquatch? Is that in Canada? I thought they spoke French, Yeti can't remember.

Anonymous said...

Thank you John Stodder.

Quaestor said...

Lauren Bacall died today. She really left an indelible stamp on everything she did. I going to find Key Largo somewhere and enjoy one of her best tonight.

Ann Althouse said...

"I know you prefer to stay mysterious, but are you saying Williams was responsible for taking his own life, despite his depression? Be clear, please."

As with Adam Lanza, the killer isn't alive to be tried. I can't know the answer. As I keep saying, I am speaking to the living in saying you must not kill, you must resist violence.

Pete said...

You've avoided the question, Althouse. Was Williams responsible for his death? This isn't a court of law. What is your opinion?

John Stodder said...

"...you must resist violence."

Aha.

This is where the confusion is coming from. Because suicides often use violent means -- guns, self-garroting, razors, defenestration -- suicide is associated with murder, which is almost definitionally violent. But that's a misnomer, especially in the case of suicides where the survivor isn't the target, where the point is to achieve an end to the pain.

The Marin sheriffs say Williams preceded his hanging with attempts to cut his wrists. He was looking not for a violent end, but a reliable one. My uncle used a rifle not because he wanted a bloody scene, but because he knew it would work. The more peaceful options such as pills are less reliable. But from what I've read about sufferers from clinical depression who consider or attempt suicide, the point is to shut off the lights, without a chance that someone could revive them or that they would survive with debilitating injuries. If it could be done with exquisite gentleness, they would choose that, so long as the result was certain.

I reject the notion that suicides that are committed by the clinically depressed are "violent." They are voluntary death, not a bloody blaze of glory. Don't confuse means with ends.

ken in sc said...

I have been depressed. Depressed enough to tell my doctor about it and take Lexapro and feel better for it; not depressed enough to kill myself. I have been angry enough to kill somebody else. After I got up enough nerve to do it, I was too drunk to get out of my chair and do it. I'm glad for that.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, Crack even shows up to pollute this thread with his racist, half-coherent, self-absorbed begging and whining. He just can't stop himself.

"I see a homeless black person and my heart aches - from slavery - whites see them and try to find another route, no feelings attached but their own well-being."

Jesus Tapdancing Christ, Professor, forget for the moment about his self-serving race-baiting, can you really support this kind of poorly-written dreck defacing every goddamn comment thread?

kcom said...

"He didn't leave my side until I washed up, got dressed, and joined him out for a steak dinner."

I wish I could have done that for my brother. Unfortunately he lived six states away and I was too far away to help at that moment. In hindsight, I would have been there, even six states away.

CStanley said...

You would not say that about a murderer of another person who felt overwhelmed by hatred and anger.
True that we don't exonerate based on those emotions, yet we do in some cases find that killers aren't culpable because of mental illness.

I think you are undervaluing the suicide's victim and giving priority to the victim's murderer, who deserves condemnation.He's already been executed.

I am speaking, as I can only speak, to the living. You must resist the impulse to commit murder. It never becomes permissible out of hate or anger at the victim. Your opinion that he is hopeless and worthless does not justify murdering him. Who is giving permission, and who is seeking it?

Ann Althouse said...

"You've avoided the question, Althouse. Was Williams responsible for his death? This isn't a court of law. What is your opinion?"

My answer is I don't know the facts. Conceivably, he was insane beyond the point of responsibility. It seems unlikely.

Anonymous said...

I see where you are going with it, but I'm not feeling the 'suicide = murder' line of reasoning any more than 'abortion = murder' or 'meat = murder'.

But if it works with the people in your life who have suicidal tendencies (if there are any), then by all means use it. Some may have something in their cultural background that make them responsive to that specific argument or moral absolutes in general.

It would most definitely would NOT work either on myself or with those in my life who are subject to deep depression, but would more than likely drive them into further withdrawal and isolation. Therefore, not encouraging actual continuance of life, no matter how clean the rationale, I would not use it. Of course, I don't buy it either, and neither would they. (That's the useful thing about siblings. You often agree on the basics.)

Like Crack's friend, I've done the camping outside someone's door thing - although with much less manly flair. You do what works to help people feel (and it IS a feeling thing, not a thinking thing) that it's worth it at least for another day. At the very least, it's harder for someone to kill themselves when you are right there.

The means may be different, but the end goal is the same.


Rusty said...

"Freeman Hunt keeps asserting that suicide is always a choice, but for the clinically depressed, that is not what the record shows."


Of course it is. We're human beings. Not animals. We have responible agency.
I have no idea what deamons Williams was exocizing. He was backed in the corner and saw this as the only way out. It was his decision.
Perhaps he saw himself dragging his family down into the black place he was in and decided to spare them that journey. Maybe he had finacial problems. Maybe the voices wouldn't stop.
I don't know, but in any event his pain is over. I'm sorry his family has to go through this.




The Crack Emcee said...

DS,

"Jesus Tapdancing Christ, Professor, forget for the moment about his self-serving race-baiting, can you really support this kind of poorly-written dreck defacing every goddamn comment thread?"

There's another black guy dead - instead of going to college like he planned - and this idiot thinks trying to engage whites in a real dialogue about race is being "self-serving".

What a moron. Self-serving?

Yeah, asshole, I like to stay alive.

Can you say you face the same dangers?

If not, shut-the-fuck-up,...

The Crack Emcee said...

Boy, you guys are some nasty fucking creatures, for a racial paradise,...

The Crack Emcee said...

Rusty,

""Freeman Hunt keeps asserting that suicide is always a choice, but for the clinically depressed, that is not what the record shows."

Of course it is. We're human beings. Not animals. We have responible agency."

Race will never get solved with this kind of stubborn idiocy ingrained in the culture.

"I have no idea what deamons Williams was exocizing."

See the logic slip - in one sentence? A guy fighting "demons" also has "agency" this asshole thinks is controllable and that he can comprehend.

It's simply amazing to me, in 2014, an American education can produce this level of mental catastrophe.

"He was backed in the corner and saw this as the only way out."

Because he was mentally ill.

"It was his decision."

And, as we all know, the mentally ill are excellent decision-makers,...

John Stodder said...

For anyone still following this thread, here's a good piece on the "agency" question with regard to mental illness.

I'm stunned that this has to be said, and that very intelligent people who I so respect can't grasp this. I'm not sure this will make a difference in altering what seems to be a strongly-defended set of beliefs, but it's clearly worth a try. http://popchassid.com/robin-williams-didnt-kill/