When well-loved actor and comedian, Robin Williams killed himself by asphyxiation this week, wild speculation ensued. One news source opined that Williams suffered from 'Survivor's Guilt", and felt that he had no right to live after three of his close friends (Belushi, Reeves and Coffman), died untimely deaths. Others say that years of drug abuse and depression finally overwhelmed him to the breaking point. Still others believe Williams was bitter about being recently relegated to insignificant TV and movie roles. We will never know for sure, unless a suicide note is discovered. We do know he was divorced several times, resulting in alimony taking much of his fortune. So,he killed himself. If he suffered from depression, we know that can lead to suicide, even when aggressively treated.
The world always seeks answers as to why a person would take his or her own life, particularly a wealthy, famous and well-loved person. We cannot comprehend the demons that may have haunted Williams, even though he always seemed jovial and made others laugh. I once wrote a column, "Suicide: A Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem", in which I wrote about three friends who had killed themselves, each thinking their death would make the world a better place. They left behind families, including children, who were virtually destroyed by their death, mostly blaming themselves, and feeling inadequate and worthless because someone they loved so much had taken such an extreme measure just to get away from them. Others blame themselves for not being there to say the right things to deter their friend or relative from killing themselves. It was reported posthumously that he was hiding a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (still no reason to commit suicide).Clearly, suicide never resolves any problems, but creates more problems for those left behind.
I was shocked to read that over 41,000 suicides occur in the U.S. each year. What an enormous waste of human potential, and what a huge amount of despair and pain is created in each case. It's saddening to think of all those left behind to carry guilt, sorrow, loss and despair throughout their lives because of a terrible decision by someone they love.
I have no idea where Robin Williams stood spiritually, and I haven't seen any public profession of faith in any deity or organized religion. The only remotely spiritual statement I had seen attributed to Williams, was that he stated that 'cocaine is God's way of letting you know that you have too much money'.
All major religions of the world (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, etc.), believe suicide is in violation of their religious tenets. The Bible teaches us that murder is a violation of God's Commandments, so some believe that, since one cannot repent taking their own life, they cannot be forgiven.
While such logic may work for many, it seems antithetical to the main truth of the Scriptures; that all humans sin constantly; we cannot be good enough to pay for our sins, and that even one sin can doom us to Hell. The truth of God's Word is that He had mercy on His doomed creation, and made a way to get the justice He rightly deserves, and to punish our sins...all of our sins. He sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the perfect sacrifice for all sin, and offers eternal life in Heaven to all who will accept His free gift. God, thru His Son, forgives all sin...past, present and future. Therefore, it would seem that a sin, such as suicide, would not keep one from entering Heaven, no more than if one dropped dead while in the act of any other sin. I am not a theologian or scholar, but I trust in God's promises.
We can't know where Robin Williams' soul resides for eternity, but we do know that John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life". I pray that Robin Williams is resting with the Lord, but, as for me, I place all my trust in the Lord-plus, I'm too nosy about what's coming up next to deprive myself of every day of life God is willing to give me.
Jim Jackson is a Nationally Syndicated Columnist (www.amyfound.org) and Author (In All Things...Tate Publishing, Oklahoma City). He's a freelance writer and Editor-In-Chief of the Amy Foundation Internet Writing Syndicate. Jim has been a member of St. Matthew Lutheran Church for more than 3 decades.