If you’ve ever seen someone you love in complete despair then you have some idea of how Susan Williams felt in the last weeks before her husband, the inimitable comedian Robin Williams took his own life.
And perhaps you’ll understand how she can say, she doesn’t blame him “one bit” and forgives him “50 billion per cent”.
In her highly anticipated first interview since Williams hung himself a year ago, Susan revealed they knew he had just three years to live and that he was due to be checked into a facility for neurocognitive testing the week of his death, possibly fearing that once he was checked into a hospital, he would never leave.
“If Robin was lucky, he would’ve had maybe three years left. And they would’ve been hard years. And it’s a good chance he would’ve been locked up,” Susan Williams told Good Morning America.
Susan sobbed as she described what it was like seeing her husband of three years and best friend “just disintegrating” before her eyes.
Despite being sober for eight years, Williams started to suffer from anxiety and paranoia and was put on antidepressants in May of last year. Susan recalls he would ask her why people were staring at him in restaurants and she’d have to explain it was just because he was Robin Williams.
Physically, Williams was suffering stomach pains, constipation, urinary trouble and sleeplessness.
“He said to me, he said, ‘There’s something really wrong with me.’ I said, ‘I know, honey. I know there is. And we’re going to get to the bottom of this. I swear. We’re going to figure this out.’ And inside my mind for the first time, I started to wonder, ‘Are we?’” she said.
In May, Williams was diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Susan says he was already started to show symptoms including stiffness, slumping, the shuffling gait. He was also “losing his ability in his voice”.
When asked if he ever talked about dying or taking his own life, Susan said, “No. Not even — no. No. I mean, he was sick and tired of what was going on, absolutely … and when he got the Parkinson’s diagnosis, you know, I mean, in one sense, it was like this is it. This is what we’ve been — we’ve been chasing something, now we found it. And we felt the sense of release and relief.”
She recalled finding her husband one morning in the bathroom covered in blood after “miscalculating” the door. After his death, the coroner found he was also suffering Lewy body dementia, which affects vision.
The change in her husband was swift, and frightening, she explained.
“It’s one minute, totally lucid … And then five minutes later, he would say something that wasn’t — it didn’t match. He was keeping it together as best he could. But the last month he could not. It was like the dam broke,” she said.
Susan suspect the impending stay at the medical facility was the driving force behind Williams’ decision to kill himself. She recalls their last conversation, just before she went to bed. He offered to give her a foot massage.
“And I said, ‘It’s OK, honey. You don’t have to tonight.’ And I’ll never forget the look in his eyes of just, sad because he wanted to. And I wished — you know?” she said. “Then he came back in the room a couple of times. Once to his closet. And he said — and then he laughed. And he said, ‘Goodnight, my love.’ And I said, ‘Goodnight, my love.’”
The next day, August 11, 2014, Susan left for work without seeing him, thinking he was still asleep. It wasn’t until 11.30 when she hadn’t heard from him that she asked his assistant to wake him up and not long after learned what had happened.
“That 20-minute car ride, I just screamed the whole way, ‘Robin!’” she said.
When she arrived home she had to wait for the first aid team to do their job. “And I got to see him … and I got to pray with him. And I got to tell him, ‘I forgive you 50 billion percent, with all my heart. You’re the bravest man I’ve ever known.’”
When asked if killing himself was Williams way of taking back control over his destiny, Susan replied, “In my opinion, yeah. I mean, there are many reasons. Believe me. I’ve thought about this. Of what was going on in his mind, what made him ultimately commit — you know, to do that act. And I think he was just saying, ‘No.’ And I don’t blame him one bit. I don’t blame him one bit.”
Share your thoughts on this heartbreaking story of the last months of Robin Williams’ life. Could you have forgiven your husband the way Susan has forgiven Robin?
Need help? Phone Lifeline now on 13 11 14.