Robin Williams: What Drove Him Over the Edge?

Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 05:26 PM

By Charlotte Libov

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The despair that evidently drove beloved actor Robin Williams to take his own life in such a brutal manner as to hang himself with his own belt must have been extraordinarily deep and indicates that it was probably a spur-of-the-moment decision, a top therapist says.
 
“This was an act of someone in complete and utter desperation. Someone who is in such deep depths of sorrow that they believe their life has become meaningless,” says nationally known psychotherapist Fran Sherman.
 
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Williams was found dead Monday in an apparent suicide, having hung himself with his belt. After his death, his publicist revealed he had been suffering from “severe depression.” For years, Williams was presumed to be suffering from bipolar disorder, a debilitating disease that brings about manic highs and depressive lows.
 
Although it may never be known why Williams was driven to take his own life, there was great speculation throughout the world on what might have made the Academy Award-winning actor so distraught.
 
Some of that speculation centered on his financial situation. In an interview last year, Williams had lamented how he had to change his lifestyle, given the multimillion-dollar cost of two divorces, and that he had gone back to TV because he had “bills to pay.” That show was recently cancelled. But, on the other hand, Williams had just released two movies this year, and had three more in post-production.
 
“He was busy and he was still very popular,” Sherman tells Newsmax Health.
 
Still, it’s possible that even manageable financial problems can become magnified in the minds of individuals who are severely depressed.
 
“The thinking of someone who is feeling such depth of sorry is completely skewed,” she adds. “It is not based on reality.”
 
On social media, some have also publicly suggested that Williams — who was deeply devoted to his family, especially his three grown children — acted selfishly in taking his own life. In fact, the final photo Williams posted on social media was one of him and his daughter, Zelda, in commemoration of her birthday Aug. 1.
 
But to people in the depths of depression, the possibility that they might be acting selfishly is the furthest thing from their minds, says Sherman.
 
“Although people think of suicide as a selfish act, but it’s actually not,” she explains. “It’s the act of someone who is actually is thinking that they are being selfless because they want to rid their loved ones of the pain that they have caused them.”
 
Still, no matter how driven people are to commit suicide, they rarely do it in the manner that Williams chose, to hang oneself in a seated position, using a belt.
 
“This act was a particularly brutal and aggressive one. It was not well thought out. This was the act of someone who thinks, ‘I must do this right now,’ ” she adds.
 
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