suicide


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Comedy Matters

Robin Williams and the death of our captain

I named this column Comedy Matters because I truly believe it does. It matters to the junkies and alcoholics who frequent open mics to work through their demons on stage. It matters to the headliners and road comics who travel from club to club each night for a living. It matters to writers and Hollywood execs who make millions off the laughter that rumbles in darkened theaters. It matters to cancer patients, widows and kids. Comedy strikes us over the head or starts slowly in our belly and bellows out of us warming our innards with a rush of happiness. So when a comic dies, we hurt. And today, we’re hurting because the world lost a great one.

Robin Williams started his career in San Francisco in the 70s and quickly became one the most absurd joy makers in the comedy world. His big break was when he landed the role of Mork in “Mork and Mindy” in 1978. He transformed into a prolific actor and comedian, appearing in films such as Dead Poets Society, The World According to Garp, Good Will Hunting and so many more; too many to list.

But this isn’t just about his qualifications or list of his films. He affected people in many ways. His fans loved him for his insane and wild energy. Comics loved him for how dedicated he was to comedy and how sweet he was despite his fame. He was a good man, a beloved man, who struggled with depression and an addiction to drugs and alcohol for the past forty years. On August 11, his struggled ended. Investigators believe his death may have been a suicide and to anyone who knew him or his history this would not be a surprise.

At the news of William’s death, Michael Ian Black tweeted, “We lose at least one great comic to suicide or ODs every year. Our jobs are to communicate, but we seem to not know how to ask for help.” Comedians don’t control the market on depression and substance abuse, but it seems to be a common theme amongst them. These issues manifest on stage to applause and laughter but they continue off stage and they grow and fester and strain relationships. And people die and then there’s nothing we can do.

Robin Williams brought a joy to the world that he couldn’t find internally. His family and friends are mourning. His wife and kids are shattered by his loss. And his fans will find it hard to replace this legend. Be in peace captain, we’ll miss you.

Genevieve Mueller is a writer and comedian.  She performs all over the country and runs two monthly shows in Albuquerque: Comedians Power Hour and the Bad Penguin Comedy Show at The Box.  More information can be found at genevievemuellercomedy.com or on Twitter: @fromthefloorup.

V.23 No.11 | 3/13/2014
A semicolon on Sara Saucedo
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com

Arts Feature

Resisting Suicide; Using Semicolons

How the right punctuation could save lives

By Mike Smith
Don’t put a period on the end of your life, says the Semicolon Tattoo Project, now in its second year of encouraging public conversations about suicide and self-harm.
View in Alibi calendar calendar

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news

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V.21 No.34 | 8/23/2012
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Film Review

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French-Canadian classroom drama teaches a lesson on healing

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opinion

18 veterans commit suicide each day

That’s the startling opener to Alex Limkin’s column “Flashes of Light,” which is all about staying alive after war.

Limkin, an Iraq War veteran, took a trip with Outward Bound. The wilderness organization leads vets through the backcountry for free. It’s part of an effort to help people cope with post-traumatic stress.

Folks can apply here.

V.21 No.10 | 3/8/2012

From the Foxhole

Flashes of Light

Staying alive after war

By Alex E. Limkin
An average of 18 veterans commit suicide each day. The source for this statistic is not some obscure group with an anti-war agenda but an organization that probably knows something about the rate at which veterans are killing themselvesthe U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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opinion

Another broken soldier

Benjamin Colton Barnes
Barnes, an Iraq War veteran, died at age 24 in Mount Rainier National Park.

Would we have known the name Benjamin Colton Barnes if he hadn’t killed someone else before rushing to his own death in Mount Rainier National Park on New Year’s Day? Or would he have been just another young Iraq War veteran on a suicide trajectory?

Columnist Alex Limkin, also a vet, asks this question in his column From the Foxhole.

A veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes, according to a study published in November. It also indicates military suicides have been on the rise since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

V.21 No.3 | 1/19/2012
Barnes, an Iraq War veteran, died at age 24 in Mount Rainier National Park.

From the Foxhole

Benjamin Colton Barnes

Another broken soldier

By Alex E. Limkin
The only reason the death of this Iraq War veteran has attracted such attention is that he did not go alone. Had Barnes simply headed off into the frozen wilderness to die, his story would have been unexceptional. After all, scores of returning veterans, traumatized and afflicted, have committed suicide over the last decade.

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news

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V.20 No.29 | 7/21/2011
A trio of Hers
Christina Slyter

Performance Preview

Skeletons in the Trailer

Performer tackles love lost and suicide notes with dark humor

By Summer Olsson
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