The suicide of Robin Williams is front page news. It has prompted commentators, "experts" and even politicians to express their views about what Mr. Williams should have done rather than take his life. Some have also offered their views about how people should react to this event ("Depression, suicide and loose talk," Aug. 13).
Mental health professionals encounter clients with suicidal thoughts as they work together to enable the clients to deal with issues that, to the client, at the time, seem very difficult to resolve. Even when the outcome of therapy may not be perfect to the client, the choice of suicide as a solution is chosen by only a small percentage.
When a client chooses suicide it is difficult for the therapist to determine the specific thinking that, for the client, ultimately led to the decision to take their life.
Occasionally, there are suicide notes and family consensus that death is preferable to continuing intractable pain or suffering during inoperable cancer.
Speculation, hasty judgments, and labeling the suicide as "cowardice" tell us about the speaker, not the suicide victim. These conclusions are based on assumptions about what the suicide should have done, rather than choose suicide. These assumptions are based on the faulty logic that what the suicide could have done trumps the reality of the suicide's actual choice.
We may wonder about Mr. Williams' decision process in choosing death, but we must accept Mr. Williams' decision, not debate about the alternatives he discarded.
In matters such as life, love, finance and politics, for example, if we are to deal logically, we must accept what is not what we would prefer. We will all live better if we accept the world as it is and plan accordingly.
The writer is a retired clinical psychologist.-
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