Robin Williams, a greatly beloved American comedian, actor and filmmaker, committed suicide at his home in Tiburon, Ca. on August 11th. How does something as unexpected as this occur?
In late June, Williams had gone for “rehab” at the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Centre near Lindstrom, Minnesota.
Their website states they offer, through their Mental Health Clinic “a broad continuum of professional services designed exclusively to meet the unique emotional and mental health needs of individuals in recovery from alcohol, drugs and related diseases.”
Earlier in his life, Robin had gone into rehab related to his struggles with alcohol and cocaine but this summer the reason was something different.
His wife, Susan Schneider, made a statement saying that Williams, 63, was struggling with depression, anxiety and a Parkinson’s diagnosis at the time of his death.
“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly,”Schneider said.
What treatments are available at Hazelton for depression? Their website offers up a fact sheet from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) which states there are three “well-established types of treatment for major depression”:
• Medications. Medications often effectively control the serious symptoms of depression. It often takes two to four weeks for antidepressant medications to have their full effect.
(They omit telling you that one of the documented full effects of taking antidepressants is suicide)
• Psychotherapy. ..Severe depression appears more likely to respond to a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
• Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). ECT is a highly effective treatment for select severe depression episodes and for severe depression with psychosis. When medication and psychotherapy are not effective in treating severe symptoms (e.g., acute psychosis or thoughts of suicide) or if a person cannot take antidepressants, ECT may be considered. Memory problems can follow ECT treatments, so a careful risk-benefit assessment needs to be made for this intervention.
Actor Rob Schneider (no relation to Susan Scheider) who was a close friend of Robin’s stated “Now that we can talk about it. Robin Williams was on a drug treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s. One of the SIDE-EFFECTS IS SUICIDE!”
Another source said: “Robin had recently left rehab. He was on medication for anxiety and depression and had also started taking drugs to combat the early onset of Parkinson’s.
“Many of these drugs list suicidal thoughts as a possible side effect. A lot of Robin’s friends are convinced that the cocktail of prescription pills he was on somehow contributed to his mental state deteriorating as quickly as it did.
“Robin had always suffered from depression and addiction but the diagnosis and treatment of his Parkinson’s was new, as was the combination of drugs he was on.”
It will be awhile before we know the various drugs Robin was taking when he took his life if indeed they are ever revealed.
But we do know that antipsychotic drugs are now often prescribed off label for conditions not approved by the FDA and that Williams may have received them for insomnia. These same antipsychotic drugs often create neurological movement disorders that mimic Parkinson’s Disease.
Knowing the documented connection between psychiatric prescription drugs and irrational thoughts, actions and suicide while taking the drugs or withdrawing from them, it’s easy to wonder what psychiatric drugs Robin Williams had been given.
Robin left one clue last April when he was interviewed on Entertainment Tonight show and made a comment about a tv producer named David Kelly. Robin said,
“He’s so mellow….talking to him is like taking a Prozac because you feel, you just feel good.”
If Prozac was something Williams knew from personal experience then he was at risk.
In 2005, Harvard psychiatrist Martin Teicher blew the whistle on how Prozac manufacturer Eli Lilly & Co. lied to the public for 15 years in denying the connection between Prozac and suicide. Prozac’s labeling insert now states side effects of the drug include“suicidal behavior” and “suicidal thoughts.”
Sadly, Robin was not the first artist under psychiatric care to commit suicide.
Frances Farmer was an American actress and tv host who was victimization by psychiatry became well known across the nation.
Described as “high-spirited, rebellious, passionate and magnetically beautiful,” Farmer began using amphetamines (marketed as Benzedrine) soon after she arrived in Hollywood. In 1943 she was arrested following a drunken brawl and placed into the custody of psychiatrist Thomas H Leonard. He diagnosed her as “suffering from manic-depressive psychosis – probably the forerunner of a definite dementia praecox” – a diagnosis later described by doctors as ‘pure gibberish’.
Farmer ended up in the screen actor’s sanitarium at La Crescenta, California, and was given at least 90 insulin shocks before she managed to escape the institution.
Farmer described insulin shock as “a brutal physical attack which not only stunned the brain cells, but shocked the body as well and left the patient racked with nausea and pain”
Her mother later signed a complaint against her and she was re-committed into custodial care in March 1944. At West Washington State hospital in Steilacoom, her psychiatrists gave her repeated ice baths and electroshock sessions – 2 or 3 a week for 3 months in an effort to break her will. Finally, the subdued starlet was declared ‘completely cured’ and discharged.”
By May 1945, she was back at Steilacoom, recommitted — at her mother’s request — on the grounds that it was not safe for her to be at large. She did not set foot outside that institution again for five years. There is some debate over whether she actually received a lobotomy or not but her biographer wrote, “…She would no longer exhibit the restless, impatient mind and the erratic, creative impulses of a difficult and complex artist. She would no longer resist authority or provoke controversy. She would no longer be a threat to anyone.”
Vivien Leigh was a British stage and film actress who starred in Hollywood films like “Gone with the Wind” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”.
She was drinking alchohol along with her TB medicine and the combination led to mental confusion and hysteria. Her husband Sir Lawrence Olivier flew her back to England where she ended up in the Netheren psychiatric hospital .
The friendly doctors packed her in ice and gave her repeated electroshock treatments. Her husband was horrified when he saw her.
“I can only describe them by saying that she was not, now that she had been given the treatment, the same girl that I had fallen in love with. … She was now more of a stranger to me than I could ever have imagined possible. Something had happened to her, very hard to describe, but unquestionably evident.”
ECT was stopped and psychtropic drugs were used instead. The doctors never realized her TB medicine and alcohol had led to the mental symptoms they were attempted to remove.
Judy Garland was known worldwide from her early film “The Wizard of Oz”. She was an American actress, singer and vaudevillian, described by Fred Astaire as “the greatest entertainer who ever lived.”
Over the course of her life she saw 12 psychiatrists, was prescribed many diffferent psychotropic drugs, had electroshock therapy and hypnosis. Despite this “help” she attempted suicide many times, once cutting her throat with a razor knife. She died in 1969 of an accidental drug overdose and reportedly was taking up to 40 Ritalin a day and having hallucinations.
Marilyn Monroe‘s career and death have been documented in many books. Under the stress of stardom in Hollywood she sought help from psychiatry.
“One of Marilyn’s psychiatrists was Dr Marianne Kris in NY, who received Monroe five days a week for therapy. Kris later prescribed the actress the powerful barbiturates that would eventually kill her. After a particularly nasty session, Kris committed Marilyn Monroe to a mental institution, where she was locked in a padded cell for two days. Monroe pounded the door hysterically until her hands bled. After her release, she fired Kris.”
For two years in the early 1960’s each day she would visit the home of Dr Ralph Greenson who was Monroe’s psychiatrist in her final years. He kept her on barbiturates and severed her connections to friends and family in his attempt to cure her of her “schizophrenia.” He also diagnosed her as a ‘borderline paranoid addictive personality’
In the summer of 1960 , during the filming of “The Misfits”, Marilyn had a nervous breakdown and complained of hearing voices, a paranoid state for which Greenson prescribed even stronger doses of barbiturates. She ended up in a psychiatric ward for 4 days and was only release when she managed a phone call and her second husband, Joe DiMaggio threatended to tear down the building “brick by brick” until they released her.
According to Dr. Greenson’s son, his father “became increasingly desperate. He felt that therapy as he knew it wasn’t working, he couldn’t hospitalise her, because everyone came to stare and gawp at her, which was awful, and medication wasn’t helping in her case.”
On 4th August 1962, following a six-hour therapy session with Dr Greenson, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home with the every present barbiturate bottle on her nightstand.
Kurt Cobain was an American musician and artist, who was best known as the lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter of the grunge band Nirvana and another psychiatric victim.
“A talented and creative child, Cobain was misdiagnosed as “hyperactive” and prescribed the cocaine-like and highly addictive Ritalin. Side effects include insomnia, nausea, abdominal pain, hallucinations and a predisposition to later cocaine use. Sedatives were prescribed to counter the insomnia. The progression to street drugs, including heroin, was a given. Compounding the Ritalin were untreated chronic medical conditions that affected him his entire life, including a “burning, nauseous” stomach, which Cobain said heroin “quenched.” He enrolled in a Los Angeles psychiatric drug recovery center. Thirty-six hours after admission, he bolted and ended his life with a single shotgun blast to his head. Heroin and Valium were found in his blood stream.”
Ironically, he had penned a song called “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle” including the lyrics:
“Our favorite patient, a display of patience,
Disease-covered Puget Sound
She’ll come back as fire, to burn all the liars,
And leave a blanket of ash on the ground”
With such a long gallery of artists killed by psychiatric treatment or killing themselves following it, one would think the press would be asking questions about psychiatry’s role in Robin Williams suicide.
But instead they still prefer to side with the big drug money that supports their newspapers and tv shows. Their coverage uses the suicide to promote more psychiatric care to readers and viewers.
CBS news wrote this nonsense quoting Dr. Harry Croft, a psychiatrist and addiction expert.
“This tragedy gives us a chance to understand that depression is not due a weakness of will or character flaw. It is a brain disorder,” said Croft. “We see changes in function, the way the brain processes various neurochemicals and neurotransmitters.”
And then adds their own comment, “While the public may never know for sure, it is possible that even with all the resources available to Williams, he simply wasn’t able to get the help he needed.”
A Philadelphia paper quotes two psychs and gives a plug for psychiatric treatment.
Dr. Jeff Borenstein is president and CEO of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation in New York City.
“What’s also troubling is that too many people with depression don’t seek treatment. “That is a major problem in our country,” he said. “It’s important that people be aware of depression so that they can encourage a loved one to seek treatment.”
Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y reiterated that depression is very treatable, though it can sometimes take time.
“It can be frustrating for the patient,” he said. “They can go through a lot of different medications before they find one that works. People usually look for immediate gratification, but treating depression can be a lengthy process.”
People who are depressed should seek treatment, which is helpful for the vast majority of patients, Krakower emphasized. And, those around them need to be supportive, he said.
Then they tell the reader “To learn more about depression and its treatment, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine”.
A San Franscisco paper describes the details of Williams suicide and then gives a list of Bay Area resources and hotlines so its readers can go get the same type of help Robin received.
There’s one more artist ‘s story that should encourage everyone to continue to speak out until such psychiatric treatments are eliminated worldwide.
Ernest Hemingway, a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author, was given over 20 electroshocks by his psychiatrists to cure him of his ‘mental illness’. Following his release from the Mayo psychiatric clinic he wrote this description of his treatment.
“What these shock doctors don’t know is about writers and such…. They should make all psychiatrists take a course in creative writing so they know about writers.… Well, what is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure, but we lost the patient….”
In July 1961, just two days after leaving the psychiatric clinic, Papa Hemingway put a shotgun barrel to his head and pulled the trigger.