The shocking news of Robin Williams’ suicide has left us all heartbroken and reeling. Robin’s death seems so antithetical to the Robin we saw brimming with life. He took on the world with his cutting-edge humor and supersonic mind. He was a trip unto himself.

We would stay up late knowing Robin Williams was on the late-night talk show. We would go the movie because he was in it. We loved him so. He was funny, funny, funny -- and so outrageous. We sometimes gasped and howled because we couldn’t believe he said the things he said. His mind was rapid-fire. Robin could get to the core of an issue in no time flat, be it comedy or drama. As an actor, he knew how to plumb the depths of his characters and reveal their humanness.

And it was that very humanness of Robin Williams that rang so true with all of us. Remember his devotion to his dear friend, Christopher Reeves? We felt he was one of us – even in the public eye.

Robin Williams was the whole trip to Oz – he had brains, courage, and heart.

And just like the rest of us, he struggled with his demons.
Research tells us that the majority of suicides are the result of three factors:

1. Mental illness
2. Substance abuse
3. Combination of mental illness and substance abuse

Mr. Williams had long struggles with both depression and addiction. These biological vulnerabilities took considerable energy for him to control and contain throughout his lifetime.

Depression shrinks your world. It’s as if you are held tightly in a dark, airless room. You feel constricted and limited. There is no room to move or stretch into a new perspective. There are few options and little hope. And there is precious little light to see beyond the edge of your pain. You are held hostage by your neurochemicals. And addiction further jangles your neurochemicals and ratchets your pain to a new high.

To those of us left behind, suicide often does not make sense. We wonder “Why?” And there is never one easy answer.

Suicide is a response to a confluence of factors, such as your personal biochemical make-up, accumulated stressors, pain of all kinds, disconnections, and the like. We can only guess that the weight of what Robin Williams was carrying became too, too much and he sought relief and release in the only way that seemed possible at the moment.

We will miss you, Robin Williams. Thank you for your remarkable talents and gifts. Thank you for stretching our hearts, opening our minds, and sharing your sparkle. Those of us on planet Earth – and, of course, planet, Ork -- will be reflecting your light right back to you. You are well loved and will be sorely missed.
Rest in peace, dear man.

P.S. And given the amplitude of your sparkle, I am counting on you to continue to be a force for good … from the Other Side.

Author's Bio: 

Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D., is a teacher, writer, and psychotherapist with 30+ years’ experience. Dr. McDowell’s work focuses on helping clients find hope, balance, and peace in the face of crisis, trauma, abuse, and grief. She has worked with suicide, domestic violence, and sexual assault crisis hotlines, survivors of Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the Joplin Tornado, and the Newtown shooting; clients struggling with addiction as well as those moving through profound life changes such as grief and health challenges.

Dr. McDowell is the author of Balancing Act: Reflections, Meditations, and Coping Strategies for Today’s Fast-Paced Whirl. The suicide of a fellow psychologist led to the creation of her second book, Making Peace with Suicide: A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort.

You can learn more about Adele, her writing, and her thinking at and