Robin Williams‘ suicide has inspired Henry Rollins to pen a 997-word missive for L.A. Weekly in which he highlights the selfishness of the act. Although he called Williams “a good man” and praised his performances for the USO, he said that he lost respect for Williams when he learned that the actor had killed himself, primarily citing the fact that Williams was a father. (Update: Rollins has apologized for his column in a long note posted to his website and has published another article for the L.A. Weekly, saying he cannot defend the views he expressed originally.)
“How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children?” Rollins wrote. “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.”
Rollins did not discount Williams’ despair in his post. “Depression is so personal and so unique to each of us that when you’re in its teeth, you think you invented it,” he wrote. “You can understand your own, but that’s it.”
But mostly, Rollins’ essay served as a warning for people to consider the bigger picture of their actions. The former Black Flag and Rollins Band frontman explained that, to him, the act of suicide makes him reassess the person.
“When someone negates their existence, they cancel themselves out in my mind,” he wrote. “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 [sic]. 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,” he continued. “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.”
Rollins cited a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 40,000 people a year kill themselves. “In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it,” he wrote.
Ultimately, he summed up his position in two words: “Fuck suicide.”