An Essayby Hal Crowther
Do we gather the darkness around us,
or do we let it slide by?
Better to take it into our hearts,
Better to let us have it.
Better to let us be what we should be.—Charles Wright, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”
The gruesome suicide of comedian Robin Williams, one of the most organically funny individuals who ever entertained us, shocked Americans on many levels and inspired a thousand expressions of concern—and confessions—from therapists, depressives, and failed suicides. Suddenly the mediasphere was profoundly involved in the suffering of citizens like me, who have always found optimism just one bridge too far. At the University of Maine, the counseling center sponsored an Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide prevention, and local newspapers featured unfamiliar headlines like “My Battle with Depression—A Disease Too Many Suffer in Silence” and “Depression, a Persistent Demon, Stalks One Family for Generations.” Attention focused on the death of Brandi MacDonald, twenty-two, a Maine woman who committed suicide by lying on the railroad tracks near Durham, New Hampshire—and police confirmed that she was the third suicide in nine weeks to choose a Downeaster locomotive for a quick trip to oblivion.