All lives, of course, are valuable. But I suppose I'm talking about when losses affect us personally, when this doesn't just feel like the tragic death of someone we didn't know well. According to the NIMH (via this advocacy site), bipolar disorder (which Robin Williams had) shaves about nine years off your life expectancy and as many as one in five die by suicide. It's not a rare thing. Distressingly so, actually.
The one thing I'm really struck by with all of this is that people tend to think (certainly the ones I know in RL) it's the gloomy folks who are at risk for suicide, but it seems to me it's the ones who have their happy faces screwed on so tightly that are really probably the saddest of all, in their way. i really don't think I'm at risk for suiciding, but I know a thing or two about masks. I know how I feel this compulsion to seem cheery and upbeat so people won't peer too closely behind and maybe see how broken I really feel sometimes. Or how mad, or sad, or generally not together. There are a lot of reasons for that, which probably vary from person to person, and that's a topic too big to go into right now. I do think it's a good reminder: that those people who smile the brightest are sometimes trying to cover up a very bruised heart.
Mr. Williams' death has me thinking about a particularly favorite Doctor Who line which has lightened the load a bit when faced with sad news. I'm not sure it works entirely as a description of what he clearly fought against, but maybe it will give some of you some comfort. My thoughts are with everyone affected by this man's death, in whatever way.