Table of Contents
- Attention Getter
- Credibility & Common Ground
- Preview Statement
When thinking about your childhood, it is common to think of your favorite childhood movies and shows, the one’s you made your parents watch over and over again until they had memorized every, single, word and song. Many of our generation’s childhood favorites have one thing in common: Robin Williams. We are gathered here today to honor Robin, and his continuous dedication to making people laugh.
Credibility & Common Ground
As someone who grew up laughing with the Genie, flying with Peter and dancing with Mumble, I was heartbroken and shocked as I am sure many of you were as well.
4 years ago, today, Robin took his own life. His death has been an unfortunate reminder to many that depression is a silent illness. Today I will cover three ways Robin Williams’ life and death has impacted our world.
First, I would like to discuss his philosophy and how this impacted his family, friends and viewers. Secondly, I would like to discuss his activism through his charity work. Thirdly, I would like to discuss how his death has impacted the lives of many by bringing greater awareness to suicide risks and prevention.
I would like to start out by recognizing Robin’s optimistic attitude and how his positivity radiated on to others.
Main Point 1
Robin once said, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy, because they know what it is like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” This statement resonated with many, but it was not until after his death that we realized it was true to himself. 4 years ago, I was feeling very depressed and nothing I did could pull me out. My best friend came over and brought with her several Robin Williams movies, explaining that they always cheer her up and she was right, watching those movies made me laugh and lifted a weight off of my shoulders. The next morning, I came across an article confirming Williams’ had died the night before from an overdose. In absolute shock, I realized even at his last moments, even at his lowest point, Robin was creating joy out of tears and mending broken hearts with his humor. This is the legacy that we are honoring today.
Robin also once said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” Little did Robin know that one day his ideas and words were going to have such a profound impact on millions of people today.
Main Point 2
Some of Robin’s most impactful ideas were those in his charity work. Robin cohosted a tv show called Comic Relief, created by Bob Zmuda, to help raise money for homeless Americans. The Los Angeles Times reported Zmuda stating, “Robin came from a family with money — he was brought up with a silver spoon in his mouth, and I think he felt so blessed that he wanted to do something for people who weren’t brought up like that.” Along with comedians Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, Robin helped raise more than $80 million for donation. While Robin was very active in charity during his time on earth, his death did not stop charity in his honor. According to the Telegraph Newspaper, 48 hours after his death, Secret Cinema announced a surprise showing of Dead Poets Society, a popular film Robin starred in. Their showing generated $24,000 which was donated to mental health aid. Even in death, Robin influenced generosity and laughter.
Main Point 3
Not only did Robin influence his viewers and fellow costars, but he changed the way that the media reports suicide and discusses mental health. Robin’s death created questions for media resources on how to cover such a “taboo” and sensitive topic. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in the wake of Robin’s death, the Associated Press Stylebook changed its regulations for reporting suicide by removing trigger words, blame and belittlement. Because of positive media coverage and greater awareness, the National Suicide Prevention saw a 50% increase in calls. Four years later and the number of calls being received are still higher than has ever been reported. Typically, after a suicide is nationally reported, suicide rates temporarily increase. Robin’s death is so unique because it influenced those struggling with depression to seek out help instead. Robin’s legacy of helping people find happiness did not die with him, but rather continued in an incredibly impactful way by saving lives.
Robin Williams’ life had a profound impact on millions of people. From sharing his positive attitude to sharing his fortune with the less fortunate, Robin has given tremendously to people all around the globe. His death has created greater awareness for suicide prevention and depression treatment, none of which would have been possible if it wasn’t for his admirable positivity and love for others. As you go through your daily life, remember to stay aware of how silent depression can be and we must all be diligent to prevent suicide. Stay aware of the signs of suicide risk such as talking about suicide, increased drug or alcohol use, depression and anxiety. More possible signs are listed on the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention website and if you or someone you know is feeling depressed and considering suicide you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, available 24 hours a day. Thank you.