How to write responsibly on the internet about a famous person's suicide


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I remain convinced that this was accidental death due to autoerotic asphyxia.
There’s no way Robin Williams wouldn’t make it funny SOMEHOW.

Every HOUR, one of my fellow veterans commits suicide. Nobody cared about that statistic, even when the V.A.‘s deadly inner dysfunctions were briefly and partly exposed to public view. JUST SAYIN’.

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Pity veterans as a group don’t vote their self-interest. They keep electing people who promise to slash their benefits. Properly funding the VA wouldn’t solve every problem, but quite a few.


The linked article mentioned Robin needed to attend a rehab facility recently to “fine tune his sobriety”. If that doesn’t scream in your face how bad we are at dealing/talking/managing addictions, I don’t know what does. This has me heart broken, not just because of how amazing he was. But if a genius, who had every tool imaginable can succumb–with every positive externality you could think of–then what is left for us?

Even though I despise throwing a pill at every problem, I firmly believe at some point a collection of physical sources will be isolated for addiction/depression/mania. Counseling and psychological techniques take us so far, but they are only one tool.


“All parties should understand that a scientific basis exists
for concern that news coverage of suicide may contribute to the causation of suicide.”

That’s troubling language. Strong correlation, sure. But I was under the impression that the causative agent behind suicide was mental health.

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You balk at conflating causation and correlation, yet do it right there. Most persons who have mental health problems are not suicidal, and not all persons who commit suicide have mental health problems.

In re: the causative effect of badly publicization of suicide, it’s very real:

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Both of you are being really gross right now.


Irreverent, I’ll perhaps grant you. Gross is entirely subjective, however, and therefor essentially meaningless outside of discourse with people who know your tastes.

A FUCKLOAD of us are anti-war Social Democrats. We’re a MINORITY voting concern. It’s the assholes who LOVE WAR and don’t care about putting people in harm’s way so long as it keeps gas prices low.

Don’t blame the political rolls on US - it’s you “civilians” at fault.


Right, but if someone has an auto-immune disorder and you expose them to the general populace when you know they’re frail…

The causative agency is in your hands, even if the cause is out of your control.

Well, I think you nailed it --we need better tools and we don’t do a very good job (as a society) of addressing mental illness. My experience is that depression is often seen as and felt as a personal failing rather than dysfunctional biochemistry/physiology. It is so easy to self-ostracize…those positive externalities better be damn persistent.


Great post. Much love :slight_smile:

Guys, really. I care about this topic, too, but can we move it to another thread perhaps?


I hear and greatly empathize with you. If this was real life I’d give you a bear hug.


I think we need to look at it as a social issue, too. It’s not just a biochemistry/physicology issue. People who suffer depression are often ostracized, even by those who love them, in part because we are far less compassionate of each other. Lots of people love to talk about self-compassion, and that’s important and great, but we are inherently social creatures- isolation can take a deep toll on people’s psyche. We have a culture that is individualistic, we often have people who are deeply isolated as a result. While biochemistry plays a role and that aspect of mental health needs to be addressed, I just don’t think it’s silver bullet if we don’t change our culture. We have little to no support structure in our society anymore. We are overworked, overmedicated, and constantly told how we fail to measure up to the fun house mirror of our popular culture. That deeply exacerbates the problems people have that are medical in nature.


Geez, let’s write a book together.:smiley: I still have the opinion that behaviors can be un-intensified, trauma can be treated, and drugs can help us not want to harm ourselves or others. But that is just a belief, not fact. :slight_smile:

:edit: I sounded quite adversarial. I wanted to sound conversational.


Good news: the outcome research agrees with you! We’re still trying to figure out exactly what works, for whom, when, and why and how. But the research agrees that therapy is better than no therapy, and that therapy + meds is, for most people, better than either alone or no treatment at all for mood disorders. I wish we had more specifics, but we’re on the road there.


No, I don’t think you sound adversarial… I agree about trauma and that drugs can be helpful, but we also live in a culture that creates and exacerbates mental illness, and that treats people as disposable to an unacceptable degree. Although I think the debate that started was inappropriate for the thread, @AnonKopimi brings up an important point about soldiers and mental illness. Too often, the mental illnesses they face was not due to their own biochemistry, but due to being sent to a war zone and then expected to cope with what they witnessed/participated in with no sort of help - first hand, I know that can be bad for the men and women involved.

Most of us live lives that puts a ton of stress on us, where we are constantly having to deal with fight or flight responses to things that really don’t require that much stress (do we really need those TPS reports, is the world going to burn if we don’t get them now?), and that screws with us. We spend far less time outside then we should, we stay up too late (case in point, right now), we don’t exercise, and get up too early, work too long… And rather than deal with the stresses by having less stress, we get prescribed anti-aniexty meds from our PCP. I think over medication is a huge problem and it’s being aimed not at people who have real hard to deal with mental illnesses, but people who are overstressed from work. Like many other things, resources are being diverted to those who can pay for them, not the ones who need them (not that the people with money shouldn’t have mental health care, but that we ALL should have mental health care).

I have lots of strong thoughts on therapy and medication, too, but it’s really for another discussion and I doubt my views would be popular (they tend not to be with my friends). But really, I just feel that we are deeply unkind to each other and we are isolated in our daily lives. This is not helping our mental health problems as a society.

But yeah, we should totally write a book! :wink:

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I appreciate your tone–for every Robert Downey junior, sia or others there are way more geniuses who go a route we all don’t want them to take. I am not insinuating that addiction is the kernal of all of them, but it is a reoccurring theme.

Have a great night and let’s all try to appreciate the troubled, wonderful people we love :slight_smile:


Here is another site that is dedicated to the education of the media on suicide reporting (it would probably be more useful than the dry CDC paper):

And here is one that talks about mental health reporting in general: