Henry Rollins Says “Fuck Suicide” in Response to Robin Williams’ Death

henry rollins

Henry Rollins has never been a man to hold his tongue. In his latest blog for LA Weekly, the ever-outspoken former frontman of Black Flag and the Rollins Band has one thing to say about Robin Williams’ recent death at his own hand: “Fuck suicide.” Well, OK, he has a few more things to say–and you can read it all below. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Days after Robin Williams died, I kept seeing his face on the Internet. His death seemed to have a momentum of its own. It went from a sad death of a famous person to “a nation mourns” pitch, which I didn’t quite understand. Sites such as Huffington Post swim in their own brand of hyperbole. They call it news and culture, but often, it’s just content.

I understand why people feel Williams’ loss so intensely. His talent as an actor is not in dispute. His performance in Good Will Hunting is unimpeachable. I wonder if he was tapping into his own deep trench of personal pain to deliver some of those scenes. It was brave and excellent work.

The more you think about it, the more you remember one great performance after another. Good Morning Vietnam is a favorite of mine.

When someone with this level of exposure dies in this way, it is confusing. An Oscar-winning actor, well-paid, with a career that most performers could only dream of — how could anyone so well regarded and seemingly fortunate have as much as even a single bad day, much less a life so unendurable that it has to be voluntarily voided?

On more than one of my USO tours, Robin Williams had been on the same stage a few days before me. That’s all I needed to know about him. As far as I was concerned, he was a good man.

But it’s here where I step off the train. I am sure some will strongly disagree with what I’m about to say. And I also understand that his personal struggles were quite real. I can’t argue with that.

But I simply cannot understand how any parent could kill themselves.

How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children? 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.

I know some people will disagree. And I get that you can’t understand anyone else’s torment. All that “I feel your pain” stuff is bullshit and disrespectful. You can appreciate it, listen and support someone as best you can, but you can’t understand it. Depression is so personal and so unique to each of us that when you’re in its teeth, you think you invented it. You can understand your own, but that’s it. When you are severely depressed, it can be more isolating than anything else you have ever experienced. In trying to make someone understand, you can only speak in approximation. You are truly on your own.

Everyone handles their emotional vicissitudes in their own ways. I am no doctor, but I think the brain is always looking for a sense of balance and normal function so the body can operate efficiently. Some people medicate accordingly, in an attempt to stay somewhat even. That pursuit can lead one down some dark paths. Someone who is an addict might not be an “addict” in the pejorative sense but merely trying to medicate and balance themselves.

Many years ago, I lived in Silver Lake with a housemate who suffered from severe bouts of depression. When she wasn’t in her small bedroom with the lights off, crying for hours, she was bright and hilarious. Anywhere we went, we laughed our asses off. She fought her depression with everything from bike rides to drugs, prescribed and otherwise. Years after the last time I saw her, I guess she could no longer keep up the battle and killed herself. No one who knew her was surprised. When she was in her deepest misery, she was unrecognizable.

The hardest part about being around her was you knew there was nothing you could do to help.

I get it, but then again, maybe I don’t.

When someone negates their existence, they cancel themselves out in my mind. 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. 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. 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. It sucks they are gone, of course, but it’s the decision they made. I have to respect it and move on.

A few years ago, a guy I’d known for many years hanged himself in a basement. Weeks later, I went to the spot and picked up bits of plastic coating from the cord he used, which were on the floor after he was cut down. I liked the guy, but all I could think of then is all I can think of now — the drawings his kids had made that were pasted up on the walls of his kitchen.

Almost 40,000 people a year kill themselves in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it.

Fuck suicide. Life isn’t anything but what you make it. For all the people who walked from the grocery store back to their house, only to be met by a robber who shot them in the head for nothing — you gotta hang in there.

I have life by the neck and drag it along. Rarely does it move fast enough. Raw Power forever.

 

Alert to All Users of the Disqus commenting system: Because of a recent global security issue, the Disqus website recommends that all users change their Disqus passwords. Heres a URL about the issue: http://engineering.disqus.com/2014/04/10/heartbleed.html

 



  • Cristy Rawks

    Very thought provoking!

  • John Belrose

    Well said. Well thought out. Henry Rollins at his most deep and profound.

  • Bigdaddy

    He puts it more eloquently than I ever could, but is spot on! That is the first thing I thought, “so what happens to his children and their dreams in life, no matter their age”. I know that depression is no small affliction, but I hate to think that anything in life is bad enough for me to short-change my children. They are the reason for most of what we do in life. I loved Robin Williams, but I mourn for his children more than I do for him. We’ll put Henry!!

    • DEANNE REED

      I agree fully yes this is sad but what about your children??? My ex husband committed suicide 15 years ago and shot himself when i was on the phone with him, he begged me to come over and something told me not to my friend. The chief detective said he would of killed me also if i did go to his house that day….left me to raise our 3 children on my own…..my kids still to this day have to live with this….and 1 year later my oldest son died , and now I have 5 precious grand babies i wonder about their lives as well to their grandpas death and yes it screws a lot of people in ur family and yes I am sorry but it is very selfish…..

  • Red VonMunster

    Henry is great but once in a while he spouts off about shit he doesn’t have the qualifications to spout off about, this is one of those times.

  • Steve Zakszewski

    Fuck Rollins. Wanker piece of shit. He seems to think people with depression are able to control things and make conscious choices and implying they are just weak and lack will. The only non-bullshit thing he wrote in the entire article was “I am no doctor.” That would have been a good starting point and anyone with half a brain or a modicum of decency would have then decided to shut the fuck up because they’re clearly over their head.

  • Paola Roldán Aráuz

    Is this guy serious?? You chose to believe that people who commit suicide remove themselves from your life? You see them with disdain??? Who the hell is he to talk so loosely about other people’s pain and misery? And most importantly, who are you to think you are far more important than they are?

    Sure, suicide is a terrible thing for the people who surround that person, but everyone seems to miss one important point: WHAT ABOUT THEIR PAIN? What about the mental torture that makes someone take the extreme decision to take that final step? People love them, sure, but people think only about themselves and their pain is somehow more important than the pain a person who’s struggled with depression has suffered every minute of their lives to the point that breathing fucking hurts and no one, including self-righteous idiots, thinks about them and what in their minds is the only thing left to do. Depression is a fucking cancer that eats people alive and the unbelievable ignorance that makes you think that “you gotta hang in there” shows how fucking stupid you are. FUCK YOU HENRY ROLLINS, fuck you.

  • nobody

    10 things you didn’t know about Henry Rollins……. I hope that he never has to experience for one second what someone with severe depression lives with on a daily basis. It makes hell look like Valhalla. Robin was a million times the person you are or will ever be. I am sure he would be pleased to know that you have removed him from your life.

  • huh

    “Life isn’t anything but what you make of it” is one very tired and conceited cliche, yet that is the kicker and the moral of this piece. Robin Williams didn’t make enough of his life for Henry Rollins’ ultimate approval. I think Robin Williams made a hell of a lot out of his life. I could die at 150 of natural causes and easily manage not to make half that much out of my life. Oops.

    It seems to me that life is just a bit more than what any one individual makes of it, and that it is too big and stubborn a thing to be influenced or determined by solipsistic slogans. I think if we’re going to live lazily by platitudes, “shit happens” is a better one, since regardless of our attitudes, dispositions, and talents, horrifying shit happens every day in every corner of the world. Great people, mediocre people, and terrible people are overcome by the horrors of the world in innumerable ways. I don’t believe anyone who chooses to exit on what remains of their own terms has not fought as hard as they know how, for as long as they can endure.

    It’s ugly and disrespectful to spout smug slogans as a moralizing response to a good man’s death, or to any death or human circumstance. And in the end it’s useless to flatter oneself by disdaining 40,000 suicides. To the family and people who loved and continue to love those 40,000, the disdain of a self-satisfied stranger with a pen doesn’t mean a thing.

    • Bill Shakespeare

      ^ THIS

    • skass

      Amen

  • Hugh G. Rection

    Wah wah wah… all you people bitching about Henry’s take on this need to flush out your head-gear and accept it for what it is: his opinion.

    Not only do I respect and love the work of Robin Williams, I also respect and love the work of Henry Rollins. Both have had an effect on my life, since the very early days of it; whether it was laughing my 7yo ass off to Mork, or beating my 10yo head against a wall listening to Black Coffee over… and over… and over… And the effect each has had has matured over the last couple decades. Williams’ roles matured and at times touched me – just like I’m sure they touched everyone else – in some pretty deep ways. On the other hand, I know for a fact – with utter certainty – that when I want to hear an absolutely brutal, unshaded, raw, factual rant about anything under the sun I can listen to Henry’s spoken word or read his blog. No bullshit is what Henry offers.

    I can see this from both sides – having battled both substance abuse and depression my whole fucking post-pubescent life. Even so, Henry nailed it spot on when he said “you can’t understand anyone else’s torment” and that “I feel your pain” is an utterly useless, empty sentiment. My addiction and my pain are completely incomprehensible to every other human being – there are some who can relate to it better than others, but it’s still mine, and mine alone. So, for anyone to judge whether someone else’s pain is sufficient to merit self-termination is really a moot argument – you simply can’t know that, because YOU aren’t ME, and vice versa.

    But Henry isn’t – at least as far as I can tell – trying to weigh in on whether Williams’ hurt was bad enough to merit what he did, he’s just saying he doesn’t agree with it – in principle. And I agree with Henry completely. Not only am I self-medicating addict who suffers from depression and other emotional problems, I’m a father. And even though, on quite a few occasions, I’ve REALLY wanted to eat a fucking bullet… I didn’t. My kids are the primary impetus for me still being alive. Whether I’m actually a good parent isn’t the point – it’s the point that I’m still here, and I’m trying.

    The other thing that stays my hand every time the though of offing myself comes crawling in is anger – yes anger. Fuck you depression. Wahhhh. What the fuck am I really so goddamn sad about anyway? Fuck that, I want to see how this turns out. I want to see the end – the real end – not some artificial end that I conjure up… And anger at all my friends who’ve taken the easy way out over the years. Why the fuck should I be left here while you get to quit?

    Quitting is for pussies – fuck that. Raw Power.

  • MidasKnight

    I was pretty much ready to say fuck you Henry. Why? Because I was expecting a rant like the one Simmons went on a while back. It slipped my mind the Henrys IQ and class level are way above Genes.

    I cant say fuck you Henry. Not when the man speaks with intelligence, articulation and a little class. Thank you for thinking this through before speaking.

    I’m not saying I agree with him, I dont know what hopelessness feels like. I dont suffer from depression. I’m happy he didnt stoop to Genes level. Thanks for being the man you are Henry. Simmons could learn a thing or 2 from you.

    • Anthony ollenbittle

      I was just about to type the same thing, very well put Rollins! I have deep depression issues as well so I feel that I can relate… But you are absolutely correct, you can never understand someones inner pain… It is very personal… I have dogs not children, and knowing that they need me makes me strive to survive… I doubt my pain will ever leave. But i am fighting it tooth and nail and will never give up.

  • jenfreed

    Henry Rollins never seizes to give me lady bonkers.well said

  • Bill Shakespeare

    Mr Rollins speaks with seeming authority on issues he clearly knows nothing about. Fuck Mr Rollins for assuming to know a single goddamn thing about depression. Fuck him for assuming to know what it’s like to be in the position to take the hard way out. Fuck him.

  • Doug Burlew

    I have lost all respect for henry rollins ! He has shown himself to be and utter douchebag ! Fuck henry rollins!!! I suggest he stay out of toledo ohio because if I see him I’m going to smackthe. living shit out of him ! He’s a bitch! Again fuck henry rollins !!!

    • Adam Twomey

      Well said.

    • Dre Logan

      Anyone can seem tough on the fucking internet dumb ass don’t talk shit because hey what if you get your ass kicked huh think about it bro

      • Doug Burlew

        U nor henry rollins could beat my ass so I ain’t too much worried about it there dre thanks though

    • Dre Logan

      No problem plus I’m only 14

      • Doug Burlew

        Lol and I don’t hit kids have a good one Dre

  • Adam Twomey

    He understands depression, yet says “when you’re a larent, how can you kill yourself?”. Piece ofshit ddoesn’t know what hes talking about.

  • Negativemrb

    I’ve read many Rollins books, and loved his words and story’s, of his life out of his point of view and if I think I know one thing of him it is,,,All his fans should already know this would be his point of view! And anyone who diddnt probably isn’t a fan. And those for those non-fans I’m sure he could give 2 shits about their opinions. Henry Rollins promotes self esteem, endurance,overcoming adversity and is a man with many solid opinions. He pushes very hard at the world everyday to live it to its fullest…..a true FUNHOG!!

  • roxo

    opting out of life is a pussy and selfish thing that should not be regarded as anything but. People who kill themselves have nothing to offer society so why care when they do? I find suicide the ultimate joke in life because the person turns into the punchline.

  • darkhorse85

    [ A reply to a comment in support of Henry Rollins' previous statement]: I
    understand where you’re coming from but he is wrong to say what he did.
    Here’s why: The man Henry Rollins was talking about was not of sound
    mind, nor did he have the mental capacity make before he met his end
    given his mental health. Those who suffer from mental health issues are
    too often overlooked and misunderstood. Society must learn the error of
    its ways or many more will suffer. I

    ***1 in 4 suffer from mental health issues of some kind

    ***Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women. So talk!

    ***Suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 and 49, eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease.

    God rest your soul Robin Williams.
    Like · 46 mins · EditedReply
    Matt Buchanan The
    tragically now absentee father, may not be in such as state of
    parenthood. It is ironic that another a Henry Rollins’ chose to
    comment on such a subject. It illustrated his (then) ignorance that
    could in company culminate in the unwitting and avoidable demise of
    fellow man. Society was better educated the subject, chose to see mental
    health differently and actively look out for another. We’d all be a
    lot better off. Why not give it go?

  • skass

    I can see it from both sides. However, Rollins needs to get off his high horse.

  • Taylor

    Fuck u bitch I will whoop ur ass I live in Alabama 3198 elkahatchee rd lot 3 bring it mr big shot