Much of the world was in shock over the sad news of comedian and Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams’ death in August of 2014. The public watched the ongoing coverage with curiosity and grief, asking, “Why would a man who seemed to have everything, and who made so many people laugh, kill himself?”
Though we've heard it many times before with other people, the news that Williams suffered from severe depression was not only a shock; it put the sensitive topic back in the cultural conversation. Those who had followed his career were aware that he had fought many battles with substance abuse over the years, but he had recently seemed to be in a good place in life.
Concerning Williams' death, Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow stated, “In its worst forms, [depression] is much more than profound sadness; it is the conviction that nothing good will ever occur, sometimes coupled with horrific and constant anxiety that something unspeakably terrible is about to happen—in a minute, or this very night, or tomorrow.”
Assistant Public Defender Sean Landers said his client Brenna Winter suffered from depression when she attempted to take the life of her own baby.
Depression was also one of the core factors that caused a dear friend of mine to take his own life. He had served with me in my early years of ministry. A wonderful man—humble and gifted as a teacher, and a true servant—he was one of the first people I was honored to hire on staff at our church. During his tenure, my friend developed deep depression. When other health issues arose, the depression took a turn for the worse and pushed him to a dark place. After a botched surgery, pain began to engulf his life, sending him spiraling down. One day, the dreadful news arrived: my good friend was gone, having taken his own life.
Feeling Pressed Down
The word for depression originates from the Latin word depressus, meaning to press down. The factors that trigger depression are numerous, ranging from a change in weather to drug intake to physical conditions. But it seems that you can narrow down the triggers to three overarching factors: physiological, behavioral, and circumstantial. Some depression comes from physiological problems rooted in hormonal imbalance. Depression can also be the result of our behavior or external circumstances.
But before we go any further, let me remind you of this fact: Jesus loves the broken and depressed. “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,” Psalm 34:18 declares. And since Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted (see Luke 4:18), there is hope in Him.
For Further Thought
If you are feeling depressed, try to uncover what factors are pressing you down. Even though you probably won’t feel like doing so, seek out others for friendship and prayer. If necessary, don’t hesitate to seek pastoral and/or medical counsel. Every bone in your body will cry out to be alone, but for prolonged depression that is not a good thing. God is always with you, and He can bring relief to your brokenness.