In the latest edition of his LA Weekly column, Henry Rollins addressed the suicide of actor Robin Williams, saying that despite all the possible circumstances, he simply cannot understand it.
"Days after Robin Williams died, I kept seeing his face on the Internet. His death seemed to have a momentum of its own. It went from a sad death of a famous person to 'a nation mourns' pitch, which I didn't quite understand," the vocalist kicked off, further explaining how he understands "why people feel Williams' loss so intensely."
Remembering some of the actor's finest performances, Rollins noted that "as far as I was concerned, he was a good man."
"But it's here where I step off the train," he continued. "I am sure some will strongly disagree with what I'm about to say. And I also understand that his personal struggles were quite real. I can't argue with that.
"But I simply cannot understand how any parent could kill themselves.
"How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children? I don't care how well adjusted your kid might be - choosing to kill yourself, rather than to be there for that child, is every shade of awful, traumatic and confusing. I think as soon as you have children, you waive your right to take your own life. No matter what mistakes you make in life, it should be your utmost goal not to traumatize your kids. So, you don't kill yourself.
"I know some people will disagree. And I get that you can’t understand anyone else's torment. All that 'I feel your pain' stuff is bullsh--t and disrespectful. You can appreciate it, listen and support someone as best you can, but you can't understand it. Depression is so personal and so unique to each of us that when you're in its teeth, you think you invented it. You can understand your own, but that’s it. When you are severely depressed, it can be more isolating than anything else you have ever experienced. In trying to make someone understand, you can only speak in approximation. You are truly on your own.
"Everyone handles their emotional vicissitudes in their own ways. I am no doctor, but I think the brain is always looking for a sense of balance and normal function so the body can operate efficiently. Some people medicate accordingly, in an attempt to stay somewhat even. That pursuit can lead one down some dark paths. Someone who is an addict might not be an 'addict' in the pejorative sense but merely trying to medicate and balance themselves."
The vocalist further added, "When someone negates their existence, they cancel themselves out in my mind. I have many records, books and films featuring people who have taken their own lives, and I regard them all with a bit of distain. When someone commits this act, he or she is out of my analog world. I know they existed, yet they have nullified their existence because they willfully removed themselves from life. They were real but now they are not.
"I no longer take this person seriously. I may be able to appreciate what he or she did artistically but it's impossible to feel bad for them. Their life wasn't cut short - it was purposely abandoned. It's hard to feel bad when the person did what they wanted to. It sucks they are gone, of course, but it's the decision they made. I have to respect it and move on.
Sharing a personal experience, Henry noted, "A few years ago, a guy I'd known for many years hanged himself in a basement. Weeks later, I went to the spot and picked up bits of plastic coating from the cord he used, which were on the floor after he was cut down. I liked the guy, but all I could think of then is all I can think of now - the drawings his kids had made that were pasted up on the walls of his kitchen.
"Almost 40,000 people a year kill themselves in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it.
"F--k suicide," Rollins concluded. "Life isn't anything but what you make it. For all the people who walked from the grocery store back to their house, only to be met by a robber who shot them in the head for nothing — you gotta hang in there.
"I have life by the neck and drag it along. Rarely does it move fast enough. Raw Power forever."