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I often don’t comment on current happenings, but the news that Robin Williams died, apparently by suicide, brought some practical thoughts to my mind. What can we learn from this to apply to our own lives?

I once had a post entitled: The Gift of Encouragement. It begins with a challenging quote from William Barclay on our Christian responsibility to encourage others. Truly, a word of praise, thanks, or appreciation can keep someone on their feet. See the post for further thoughts, and links with practical ideas on how to encourage others.

I think certain people can end up neglected because we see them as…successful or accomplished or having their act together. See this post: A neglected command? Rejoice with those who rejoice. We can see “successful” people in an unfair light. We assume they must be strong, secure, confident, and in need of nothing. But success can bring heavy responsibilities, pressures, and doubts. Successful people can end up in one-way relationships, always giving of themselves and ministering to others, but never being on the receiving end.

I also think Robin Williams suffered from clinical depression. Mental illness can be misunderstood and unfairly stigmatized by people. Sadly, Christians can be the worst culprits, thinking that a genuine Christian should never need mental health drugs because their faith should get them through. The following book that I read several years ago for a class was a real eye opener for me.

Darkness Is My Only Companion, A Christian Response to Mental Illness by Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2006. The title of the book comes from Psalm 88. The author is a Christian believer and Episcopal priest, who has had a life long struggle with clinical depression and bipolar disorder. The book is biographical as she shares her struggles, and you can experience along with her what it is like to be in a manic state or to be hospitalized on a mental ward. But there is more, such as…theological reflection about why there is suffering in this world, differences between secular and Christian therapists, and practical advice on how to best help the person in your life who struggles with mental illness. The book is well-rounded as she incorporates Christian belief, scientific/medical information, and human experience.

  •  Let us pray for discernment and spiritual eyesight to see those in our sphere of life who might need an encouraging word.
  • Let us consider our schedules. Are we so busy rushing through life that we don’t have time to notice someone who could use a helping hand? What activity could you cut out of your life, in order to free up time for people?

But no matter what we do some individuals may still choose to end their own life. Indeed, some people who commit suicide did have encouragement and support. We live in a fallen, broken world and life can be tough. We can’t truly grasp what some people go through. May we look to Christ, and point people to Him, as we await the final redemption.

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