Can't We Learn From the Death of Robin Williams?

August 12, 2014 7:46 PM

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We are in the wake of the death of Robin Williams. Whenever a celebrity -- particularly one with a long, storied career, one who's beloved by multiple generations for a myriad of roles -- dies in a way related to addiction, the headlines pour in. Tributes. Facebook posts with heartfelt sentiments and videos of the celebrity's best scenes. Tweets of personal feelings and news stories that gather together what other celebrities have to say about the tragedy. For days or weeks, the public conversation has a somber quality. It feels difficult to be snarky or really to discuss other issues. The one person's death becomes everyone's death.

Nothing really changes in terms of the way the public perceives addiction and mental illness. Those who don't suffer from it make grand statements about the moral failings of addicts and alcoholics; health care coverage -- despite some improvements with Obamacare -- continues to only minimally cover...

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