Robin Williams had many voices and many roles. He was an actor, a comedian, a father, a producer, a screenwriter and a legend. He was a man who took the entertainment world by storm with his vibrancy, energy and ingenuity.
Williams was found “unconscious and not breathing inside his residence” on Monday, August 11, 2014 in his northern California home, according to a statement from the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. His death is being investigated as a “suicide due to asphyxia.” The news of his death brought shock to the world.
Williams is survived by wife Susan Schneider and his three children Zachary Pym, age 31, Zelda Rae, age 25 and Cody Alan, age 22 and. He once stated, “My children give me a great sense of wonder. Just to see them develop into these extraordinary human beings.”
Robin Williams was born on July 21, 1951 in Chicago, Ill. Known as a shy man in his teenage years, Williams found his voice in high school when he joined the drama department. A master at dialects, he attended The Julliard School in New York, N.Y. with a full-ride scholarship, and rose to fame in the late 1970s with the TV show “Mork and Mindy.”
He continued to bring laughter to his audiences in movies such as “Good Morning Vietnam” (1987), “Dead Poets Society” (1989), “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993), his voice-acting genius in “Aladdin” as the Genie (1992), appearing as a guest on several shows and doing several different comedy specials.
Along with his success, Williams had struggled with a cocaine addiction, alcohol addiction and depression for several years of his life. His decision to find sobriety came after his close friend John Belushi died of an overdose in the early 1980s.
While he never returned to cocaine, saying it was “God’s way of telling you you are making too much money,” Williams continued to struggle with alcohol abuse and depression the rest of his life. After the 20 years of sobriety, Williams once again found himself drinking in 2003. “I was in a little town in Alaska…and all of a sudden I thought ‘I can drink!’” said Robin Williams in a 2010 interview with ABC News Australia. “It’s the same thought you have if you look off of a large building and think ‘I can fly!’” He eventually entered rehab in 2006 for his alcohol addiction.
While Williams did repeatedly struggle with alcohol, he was the first person to recognize it in himself, and faced his conditions with humor and wit. In his comedy special “Weapons of Self-Destruction,” he took on media, society and his own flaws. He showed his battles for what they were – an ever-present addiction, but a trial that could be overcome.
“The more intelligent you think you are the harder it is to let go. ‘I’ve got a solution; I’ll just drink a little bit.’ It’s like saying, ‘I’ll just partially circumcise myself, I’ll be fine,’” Williams told ABC. “And then at that point you lose, you can’t do it, you need help. And that’s the beginning.”
His death has left many broken-hearted. The world of social media exploded with posts on Facebook and Twitter, remembering Williams and sending good thoughts and prayers to his family. It is a hard thought to realize that even this talented comedian bursting with ingenuity was plagued by his own personal demons which may have eventually ended his life.
However, Williams wasn’t defined by his pitfalls. He was known as a person who worked hard to overcome addiction and to continue finding humor in life. He taught many about the importance of words, honest relationships, the danger of drugs and alcohol and the idea that being different or “crazy” can be a good thing.
His death should not act as a point of hopelessness for others battling similar conditions. Instead, it should be a reminder that even celebrities are only human, and the road to recovery is a lifetime process.
Those of us at Sovereign Health Group send our thoughts and prayers to his family during this time of grief. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction or mental health disorder such as depression, please seek help immediately. Sovereign Health offers comprehensive treatment programs for mental health disorders, addiction and co-occurring conditions for adults and adolescents in need of help.
Robin Williams’ story of career success and continued rehabilitation work teaches the lesson to never give up on recovery and a sober life.