Henry Rollins Presents Follow-Up Essay on Suicide: 'I Promise I'll Dig in and Educate Myself'

"I cannot defend the views I expressed," the vocalist says.

Ultimate Guitar

Following the initial apology for essay in which he expressed lack of understanding for Robin Williams' suicide and suicidal individuals in general, Henry Rollins issued a fresh piece regarding the matter.

In the latest edition of his LA Weekly column, the vocalist promised to educate himself on the matter, thanking everyone for expressing their stance. It's best just to read the whole piece in full, you can find it below.

"As you might imagine, I got a few letters about my recent column about suicide. Actually, it was a lot of letters. For days. I read them. No matter how angry or instructive, I appreciate them all because they were written with complete sincerity, even if some had only two words, the second being 'you.'

"After reading carefully and responding as best I could, it was obvious that I had some work to do in order to educate myself further on this very complex and painful issue. I am quite thick-headed, but not so much that things don't occasionally permeate.

"In the piece, I said there are some things I obviously don't get. So I would like to thank you for taking the time to let me know where you’re coming from. None of it was lost upon me.

"I cannot defend the views I expressed. I think that would be taking an easy out. I put them out there plainly and must suffer the slings and arrows - fair enough. I won't attempt to dodge them. However, that doesn't mean that I can’t be taught a thing or two. I have no love for a fixed position on most things. I am always eager to learn something. I promise that I will dig in and educate myself on this and do my best to evolve. Again, thank you.

"In the short amount of space afforded here, hear me out. Like a lot of people, I have battled depression all my life. It’s nothing special, in that it’s too common to be considered unique. This state has made me have to do things in a certain way to remain operational. There have been some truly awful stretches, as I am sure there have been for anyone who deals with depression, that have at times rendered me almost paralytic. Hours pass and I slow-cook on a cold spit.

"I have likened it to being a peach in a can of syrup yet fully conscious. In an attempt to keep moving along, I must stay in the immediate present tense, acutely aware of everything happening, like driving a car on a highway. If I conclude that I am not citizen grade, I do my best to avoid people so I do not act unpleasantly. No one deserves it. This has kept me in hotel rooms, my kitchen and the corners of gyms. When I have a show that night, it's minute-to-minute.

"One of the only things that gives me a breather is music. I medicate with it. What has perhaps kept me from seeing things differently about severe depression is that I am sure I don't have it.

"But the power of severe depression was brought up quite a bit in the letters I received. Your anger toward me on this, believe me, I got it.

"I serve. That is what I do. It is, to me, the most fortunate position to be in. I have an audience. It is because of them that I get to eat, move - everything. Each member of this audience is better than I am. Braver and more real than I see myself. The only thing I fear besides being misunderstood, which would be my fault anyway, is failing these people.

"For decades I have talked to and gotten letters from people who tell me that something I did helped them, or saved them from killing themselves, helped them get clean, stay clean or come out. Never once do I really think that I had anything to do with anyone staying alive, but I get where they’re coming from. All of them are better than I am and it is them I serve.

"In my mind, all of this is mine to screw up. While I don't take myself seriously, I take them with a frightening degree of seriousness. They can take or leave me at any time; they have options. They are all I have and, beyond that, I feel I have a duty to serve them because they have made me better.

"I guess this is what makes me wrestle with the issue of suicide, when it pertains to those who have an audience, or kids, or both. I feel nothing but debt to my audience. I will try my hardest, but I will never be able to even the books. If I checked out, I would be running out on the bill.

"Like I said, I am trying to evolve on this. I have a picture in my mind. There is a person - one with a family and a huge audience - who is on one side of a seesaw. The family and the audience are on the other side. This person's condition makes him heavy enough to tilt all of them up in the air and send him to the ground. He didn’t want to go, but the condition outweighed all of them and even he couldn’t stop it. Is that, albeit crudely drawn, basically it?

"I understand it is my task to learn about this. It might take a while, but I will get on it. It is my belief about an ingrained sense of duty that will make this challenging, but I am always up for improvement.

"I got several letters thanking me for what I said. However, it was the ones that took me to task that made me think the most.

"To those I offended, I believe you and I apologize. If what I wrote causes you to toss me out of your boat, it is to my great regret, but I understand and thank you for your thoughts."

21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Gene Simmons needs to do this... more actually.. but he has no humility in him at all to do it.
    while his apology is appreciated by many. i think he was correct. the only thing is he could of said it nicer. people really respect and love robin Williams and to see him be bashed for his decisions is something fans and friends don't like to see.
    That's the thing, I believe he got a load of grief mainly because it was Robin Williams. I do wonder if the reaction had been different if he had launched into a tirade over Peaches Geldof for taking heroin and dying of an overdose instead of thinking of her two very young children
    yes. if his rant had been geared to someone alot less respected then robin Williams peoples responses would be different
    Actually it had nothing to do with Robin Williams, my opinion was that his original article had a good principle behind it (care about those left behind), but was unfortunately very misinformed which is the very thing he admits. He seemed to strongly believe people with depression are always in full control of their decisions, which is not true and the cause of the whole problem with the article. For this reason I didn't rate him as harshly as most people did, and the apology truly impressed me. I've been dealing with people forcing stupid, clueless views on others stemming from lack of thinking or education all my life and someone actually admitting they were wrong after doing one of those is new to me.
    Whilst I certainly understand the point of view he attempted to convey in his first message (though agree with the majority it could have been phrased more appropriately), I find the apology he issued to those offended and this article to be very humbling and it definitely restores my faith in humanity somewhat
    Whilst I certainly understand the point of view he attempted to convey in his first message (though agree with the majority it could have been phrased more appropriately), I find the apology he issued to those offended and this article to be very humbling and it definitely restores my faith in humanity somewhat
    Wait, since when do you have to apologize for expressing a non-offensive opinion? woah
    Considering he offended thousands by being misinformed (not particularly his fault, but it wasn't non-offensive either), he felt obliged to apologise, particularly considering he offended others with the conditions he seemed to be railing on. Better yet, he's now educating himself further. You're right in saying he didn't have to do it, no one HAS to apologise for anything, but the fact that he did and is now going further with it makes him better than a lot of us. Would you ever do the same? I doubt I would.
    He offended thousands because they were blinded by emotion, he said nothing wrong.
    Hmm, what does depression affect again? Oh yeah, emotions. You should be careful, as a public figure, when you try to talk about issues like this. As I've already said, Henry was self admittedly misinformed on the ordeal, he's righting that wrong so that he can express a more informed opinion in future. If he decides to discuss the issue again, it's fair play.
    Gray Lensman
    Just another arrogant ego of a talking head, who realized belatedly, that his latest publicity stunt had backfired. Now he's trying to do damage control, in order to protect his paycheck.
    Umm... Did you actually read the letter? It was absolutely sincere. He does not give a **** about damage control. See one of his live speaking shows if you don't believe me. He manned up and admitted his mistake. You seem like an arrogant head talking out of your ass.
    Well, you can start with some theology: "We say, 'Well, one must live. It is necessary to survive. You know, you really must go on - it's your duty. It's your duty to your children.' But you see, the thing I feel is that if you bring up children that way and tell them that they ought to be grateful to you because you're doing your duty towards them, they will learn to bring up their children in the same way. And everybody will be depressed. There really is no necessity to go on living. it's part of our Western Philosophy that we have a drive to survive; that we must go on living because a big guy told us, 'YOU MUST GO ON LIVING! AND YOU BETTER MAKE IT! OR ELSE!' . . . the fear of death is completely absurd, because if you're dead, you've got nothing to worry about. so you'll be alright. I'm quite sure that plants don't go on saying to themselves, 'You have to keep living! It's your instinct to survive, and it's something other than yourself, in which you have to obey.' You shouldn't think of your instincts as 'drives' but as yourself. I don't say, 'Excuse me, but I must eat. In fact, I need to eat.' I say, 'Hooray! I am this desire!' It's not something else pushing me - it's just me. There really is no need to go on. If it were to stop, it would be another scene. I live because I want to." -Alan Watts.