Self Harm, Robin Williams and The Mask of Happiness

August 13, 2014 Jennifer Aline Graham

The passing of Robin Williams has been a difficult death for many to grasp. People are still catching their breaths from when they heard that one of the world’s most talented actors took his own life. Not only did he star in one of my favorite films of all time, Dead Poet’s Society, but he always came across as a happy, confident individual.

As an actor, you are able to turn yourself into any character you want and get away with it, even if you are acting out a character in the real world. People admire actors and judge them due to the stories and the talent revolving around them, but sometimes, we forget to think about the baggage they carry – even if it isn’t obvious. Even though Robin Williams struggled with addiction and severe depression, it was hard for the world to see him as anyone other than a funny, happy man.

Obviously, that wasn’t always so.

Many individuals who struggle with self-harm have either dealt with depression or still are fighting those demons. Sadly, depression seems to almost go hand-in-hand with those who cut, burn or hair-pull. However, it also clings to those who are dealing with addiction, such as what Robin Williams had dealt with. While the world around him congratulated him for going to rehab and conquering some of his problems, he continued to struggle while wearing a mask of happiness. A mask that covered up the true battle with himself.

Many People Mask Their True, Inner Demons

Robin William's death can teach many people that you never know the baggage someone is carrying, even if they wear a mask of happiness.

Robin Williams died by suicide. However, for those struggling with self-harm, suicidal ideations and other mental illnesses, you can relate to how he may have felt and this situation may bring back memories from your past.

During my years of self-harm, I constantly wore a mask of happiness to hide how I truly felt: lost, upset, confused and suicidal. I walked the hallways and pushed out a smile for friends, teachers and acquaintances, but when I couldn’t handle a class or was in a low mood, I’d sneak away to hurt myself. After making marks, I’d either run to my mother’s office so she could bring me home or go on with the day wearing the same mask I always hid behind.

I think that we can all learn from this situation -- we can’t be quick to judge others because we don’t understand the baggage they carry. The happiest person in your class could be struggling with self-harm or the quiet student in the corner could be planning their suicide. You truly do not know how others feel inside, especially if they come across as a happy person.

Before you judge someone, think about the possibility of that person struggling with a demon unknown to you. If you’ve struggled with inner demons, you know you wouldn’t want other people judging you.

The Effect of Robin Williams' Death By Suicide

You can also find Jennifer Aline Graham on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and her website is here. Find out more about Noon through

APA Reference
Aline, J. (2014, August 13). Self Harm, Robin Williams and The Mask of Happiness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 27 from

Author: Jennifer Aline Graham

marion tompkins
August, 17 2014 at 11:25 am

I was in the hospital being treated for anxiety and depresssion when I learned of Robin Williams death…I am 62 he was 63 and i knew he had his deamons…I was very sucidal, but I had made a pack with my daughter to call her if it got really bad…I am out of the hospital now and staying with my Mom for awhile…I had been sliding anyway for months and i had not sleep in 48 hours then 72 hours…I learned the week of being admitted i lost my home and had no control over my life….now I am looking for a small apt. to rent….and I have a dog which makes it a little harder to rent…I never will understand why I have a mental effects everyone that loves you , yet you are not connected to anyone or any thing…I start in an out patient program tomorrow….it seems to help when there are others around that feel like you do….I am living on God's grace, that is all I know to do..

Leave a reply