Three celebrities died during August and early September of 2014 Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall and Joan Rivers all passed away within a couple of weeks of one another. One was barely talked about, another was covered for a couple of days and the other was and still is being talked about. What made the difference?
Lauren Bacall had been out of the limelight for awhile. She was also 89 years old which led to an acceptance that Life has to end at some point or another. This was hers. More to the point, Bacall’s death came a day or so after a tragic suicide of another celeb who was more in the spotlight at the time of his passing. It was with little wonder that Bacall’s passing got little more than a media notice and the public was still engaged in William’s suicide.
Comedian/Actor, Robin Williams on the other hand, was only 63 years of age, had a number of projects wrapping up and was moving onto the planning stages of yet another. His sudden death by suicide was shocking to the world as he was well known around the globe.
Comedienne, Joan Rivers’ end came at 81 years of age and was just as much of a shock as Williams’ death but, was seemingly the result of a medical error or condition. The final cause of her death is still under investigation. Rivers was also still extremely active and in the spotlight at the time of her passing.
While one can accept that Bacall had lived a full and long life and this was simply her time, it has not been the case with Williams’ nor, with Rivers’ deaths. Yet, there is seemingly more fascination with Rivers’ death than with Williams’.
Perhaps, the reasoning for the public’s fascination with Rivers’ death, in spite of being 81 years of age by comparison to Williams’ death at 63 years of age, has to do with a number of factors.
Williams’ death had a known cause. He ended his own life. Furthermore, it was known that Williams had been suffering from depression and anxiety as well as early stage Parkinson’s Disease. We quickly dismissed his death as being one of “choice” in a loose fitting way and accepted the explanation given to us as the public, being that of depression.
Rivers on the other hand, seemingly full of life, no depressive episodes known to us, going in for a routine procedure many people go through on a daily basis, seemed implausible to have happened especially, given her fame, fortune and connections with the best of medical care and, we still don’t know for certain what it was that happened during that procedure that caused her life to end.
What also made a difference were a couple of more pieces that our minds can’t seem to accept.
Williams’ family quickly had a very private funeral without public notification. No one knew that his remains had been quickly cremated and ashes spread. While the public was still chewing on the horror of his tragic death, his family was discreetly carrying out his funeral, unbeknownst to his fans. It was over before it began for the public.
Secondly, suicide still has a taboo attached to it. For many, suicide is still thought of as a “sin”. Not many want the “shame” attached to a family member’s death via suicide. It has the ability to cast a form of blame onto those who were closest to him.
Rivers, on the other hand, did not look like her chronological age of 81. Thanks to her many rounds of plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures, we were fooled into feeling her to be younger than the years she actually had lived. Her vim and vigor at this age, with a full plate of both ongoing and future public appearances were of little help in the public’s mind of her being the age that she was.
Next to those facts, the idea that her death was one that shouldn’t have happened while undergoing such a routine procedure that millions have every year, in a clinic that allegedly had the most state of the art equipment and, she could afford the best of doctors, was a shocking revelation to most that things can and do go wrong in spite of all of the above.
Finally, we don’t know yet what actually caused Rivers’ heart to stop and deprive her brain of the oxygen that damaged her brain beyond the capacity to live. For all intents and purposes, this never should have been the case but, we don’t yet know what it was that caused it to happen.
What is saddest of all (beyond the obvious that world stars have gone) is that Williams’ death by suicide has been all but dropped as a topic of discussion. The stigma of suicide has once again, caused the topic of depression to be swept under the carpet when it needs to be front and center and discussed to help others who may be facing a similar fate. Many are in need of this type of a discussion being had and the families of those who have or will face the ravages of guilt from family or friend’s suicides through depression, also need the support that can only come through such a discussion.
On the same hand, we need to know what happened to Rivers in the clinic so that future patients will not end up with the same outcome. Though extremely rare for this type of thing to happen during a procedure such as this, there are lessons to be learned for all.
Williams’ death needs to be kept in the lime light as much as or more than Rivers’ death. Until we can remove the stigma attached to depression, mental illness/disorders and suicide, more will happen. At least, that’s the way that I see things from my little corner of life.