Thursday, August 14, 2014

Shepard Smith and Robin Williams

Shepard Smith was forced to apologize for suggesting that Robin Williams may have been a coward to commit suicide.

From the New York Daily News:

Red-faced Fox News Channel anchor Shepard Smith callously branded Robin Williams “a coward” only hours after the actor committed suicide Monday.

“Something inside you is so horrible or you’re such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today,” Smith said during his breaking news telecast.

Smith was referring to Williams’ final Instagram post two weeks ago, when to mark his daughter Zelda’s 25th birthday, he shared a photograph of himself with her on his lap when she was a baby.

“tbt and Happy Birthday to Ms. Zelda Rae Williams! Quarter of a century old today but always my baby girl. Happy Birthday@zeldawilliams Love you!” Williams captioned the picture.

Smith said during the broadcast, “One of the children he so loved, one of the children grieving tonight because their father killed himself in a fit of depression.”
Smith clarified his remarks and apologized.
“I would never presume to know anything about his private life. And if any of his family members and friends were to have seen me use the word ‘coward,’ I would be horrified,” Smith told the web site, Mediaite.

“I would just like to apologize to the end of the earth to anyone who might think that I meant to openly call him a ‘coward,’” he said.

“To the core of my being, I regret it. It just came out of my mouth. And I’m so sorry. And to anyone and their families who see that, I am sorry.”
I think Smith's apology was necessary, because there is something callous about slinging around a term like "coward" when family members are trying to come to grips with the reality of their loss.

However, let's be honest. There is an element of selfishness to suicide, no matter how deeply depressed an individual is.

Unless the person is literally insane, meaning completely out of touch with reality, or  experiencing a chemically induced "level of insanity," the person has at least a hint of the understanding that making the choice to kill one's self means leaving one's family to drag around that pain for the rest of their lives.

But in that moment of utter despair, was that understanding lost for an instant? Did Williams push it aside because the agony of his existence was impossible to bear in that moment?

People don't understand clinical depression. They don't get it. They can't comprehend. But that doesn't keep them from passing judgment.

We don't know what really happened with Robin Williams, what he was thinking when he chose to do what he did. And we won't ever know because he's not here to tell us.

Family and friends of Robin Williams will carry around that horrible unknown with them as long as they live.

I really don't like the way the media are picking apart his death and wallowing in all the revelations about his suicide. "He's a coward." "He's a victim." "He was sick." Whatever. It's all so unseemly. No analysis in the media can begin to capture the "facts."

I think it's terribly disrespectful. So much heartlessness and noise.

The family needs privacy. They need people to be sensitive to their suffering. They need prayers, lots of prayers.

The death of Robin Williams is a tragedy.

Suicide creates so many victims.

Instead of spending time focusing on the death of a celebrity, pay attention to the people in your life. Maybe you can help someone in your real world.

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