Robin Williams: A Clarification on Uncomfortably Numb

Robin Williams: A Clarification on Uncomfortably Numb


My previous blog focused on the possible relationship between Robin Williams’s very public struggle with addiction and a previous abortion loss.  I have since learned that some saw this as an exploitation of his tragic death.

How did I come to write this piece?  As I read of Williams’s death, his addiction struggle was prominent in many articles I was reading…but with no mention of his abortion loss in the 1970’s.   I saw this as an opportunity to draw attention to something I have learned in my 20 years experience in after-abortion recovery ministry; people often self medicate the very painful and complex emotions and memories of their abortion experience with drugs and alcohol.  This sometimes leads to serious addiction issues at great personal cost and also brings pain and suffering upon their loved ones.

Sometimes the descent into addiction directly follows the abortion event and there is clearly a link.  In other scenarios it appears to greatly intensify an already existing problem.  Williams’s story also provided an opportunity to share on what is rarely considered…that men experience some powerful and confusing feelings when they are part of an abortion decision/procedure.

Of course there can be a number of factors that contribute to addictive behavior, for example self medicating for an emotional illness such as depression or bi-polar disorder.  Perhaps this was also an issue that contributed to Williams addiction issues.

I never in my article claimed his suicide was a direct relationship to his abortion loss.  Only God and Williams understand the pain and torment that led him to such a desperate act.  I tried to make the case based on my professional experience that there is a possible connection between his addiction struggles and his abortion loss.

For those who are neutral or pro abortion rights, you will have a difficult time understanding my perspective.  In fact, those that support abortion rights dismiss any negative after-effects from the procedure.  Research and the testimonies of hundreds of men and women clearly reveal serious emotional, physical and spiritual suffering after abortion…and the benefits of an abortion recovery program.

I believe that in the 1970’s (like millions of other couples) during a time of vulnerability, anxiety and fear Williams and his partner participated in the death of their unborn son or daughter.  Is it unreasonable when the media is saturated with stories about his addictions to suggest a connection?  I did not see similar outrage from articles that touched on his struggle with addiction.

Finally, please understand that my vocation is to educate the public about the after-effects from abortion and most importantly, the good news of healing recovery programs.  My desire was not to sensationalize the tragic death of Robin Williams, but in that painful and confusing death to bring light to what may be one area of pain in this man’s life – with the hope that others might see in their own story how abortion loss may be part of their addiction issues and other symptoms.  My hope is that the story would lead others to find reconciliation and healing.

I lost a dear friend, who I loved like a brother to suicide.  I know personally how devastating this tragedy is to family and friends.  I also know the many factors, such as emotional illness and chronic emotional and physical pain can lead someone to take their life.

If you felt that the timing of this blog was insensitive or exploited his tragic death, or if you have lost a loved one to suicide, I am truly sorry for any pain this may have caused you.  Please know that my intention was to bring light and healing to an area of loss and suffering that has touched millions of women and men in our nation.  With the national focus on his death and addiction struggles, I saw this as an opportunity to raise awareness using information that is widely available on the internet and elsewhere.

After I wrote the piece and today at daily Mass I prayed for the soul of Robin Williams…not only for his peace and healing in the Lord but also that through his painful death others would find hope and healing of their abortion loss and help and relief for anyone struggling with suicidal feelings.

Kevin Burke, LSW


One thought on “Robin Williams: A Clarification on Uncomfortably Numb

  1. If I put myself in the place of Robin’s William’s family and really close friends I can envision them sitting together asking themselves the question WHY.
    What could we have done?
    As someone who lost a dear friend to a suicide by substance abuse and as a mother of a daughter lost in it’s throes, I can speak to this reality.
    An untimely death speaks to all on different levels. Grief recovery goes through it own metamorphosis. The thoughts Kevin brought forth I believe are being thought by many folks right about now. Hollywood is going so far as to publish hotline numbers for those undergoing the debilitating effects of clinical depression. Why should Rachel’s Vineyard and other abortion recovery programs not be included?

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