Earlier this week the sad news broke of actor Robin William’s suicide. Since the announcement of his death, various information has been released to explain what might have caused his depression to spiral out of control. What is very apparent to me when reading these stories is the personal finance subtext that is woven into many of the explanations to his depressed state.
Mr. William’s, at the end of his life, had become wholly enslaved by consumption. So enslaved that he came to the point where the only hope he saw was to exit this life through suicide. This is an extreme example of one losing control of their finances through their own will. As with examples, it’s often the extreme ones that are able to drive the moral home.
It seems impossible that an A-list actor and successful comedian could arrive at the point of bankruptcy by the age of 63. This is what Mr. Williams was facing. Why? It was not for the lack of money earned. He had a very successful acting and comedy career, which put him higher than 98%-99% of the entire population in terms of lifetime earnings. His issue came from his inability to control his spending habits.
As a result of out of control spending, he found himself in a dubious situation. His need for money led him to return to roles that apparently did not help his mental state. It is reported that he was in the process of forcing himself to take the lead role in the sequel of Mrs. Doubtfire. This role is reported to be one that he dreaded having to take because it would have a negative impact on his mental condition. Yet, it would help him stave off bankruptcy.
At the end of Mr. William’s life, he had enslaved himself to his master. His master was consumption and he found that the funds used to fuel consumption did not answer to him; they owned him. This led to the escalation of his depressed state and it arrived at a point of inflection where he could not continue life and chose to end it.
What is living? Is it consuming to the point where debtors bring you to the knees of bankruptcy? Is it having more and more stuff? For Mr. Williams the laughs and jokes were not enough and whatever was missing in his life was ultimately not filled by his consumption. In the end, the consumption didn’t close the chasm, but tore it wide open.
I’m currently working on a soon to be released book titled, Enslaved by Consumption. Look for its release toward the end of 2014.