On Robbin Williams and Suicide


Suicide if undertaken for the right reasons is not an evil in Stoicism. Socrates committed suicide, Seneca also. However, if it’s merely a means of escape from your obligations and trials, it’s not virtuous.

Seneca wrote “The wise man will live as long as he ought, not as long as he can.”

But if your life has ripened, like a fruit, and is best at this moment, then plucking it is reasonable. Or if continued existence would destroy your moral or rational nature, a sagacious person might undertake it.

Epictetus: “The door is always open.”

What Dreams May Come

That being said, most folks are not in that position, and if someone is troubled and suicide is a thought they are entertaining, then they should probably ask for help, as we would be obligated to give it as we were able.  We do not know under what pain he was living, and it’s difficult to “armchair quarterback” his decision.  We can look at the context, and the social roles he had.  His children are adults, his family secure.  He did excellent work, and he struggled (not always, but sometimes successfully) with his demons and flaws.

I don’t think anyone undertakes Robin’s decision easily. I hope he finds some solace and relief in what may come after. I hope he knew the lightness of heart that he brought to many.

This is the advice I gave to some friends on Facebook:

When someone we are attached to leaves us, rather than lament at losing him or her, instead think that he has returned home.

We never possessed them, we merely borrowed them for a time. When the owner of something we’ve borrowed asks for it back, no matter how, we should return it with gladness for having experienced it.

One thought on “On Robbin Williams and Suicide

  1. Pingback: The Cynic TubCast: S01E02 | The Cynic TubCast

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