The Death of Robin Williams
Main Point: Suffering is a part of every life, but the solution for it is never suicide. The solution is hope in God, His faithfulness, and His love.
The Discussion Starter:
American entertainment suffered a tragic blow on August 11, 2014 when comedian and Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams took his own life inside his home in California. He left behind a grieving family and millions of confused and shocked fans.
Williams was known for so many terrific roles it’s hard to list them all. He was such a big presence in movies that targeted kids and families, for instance Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, Jumanji, and more recently Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. He had a ton of influence on the movies in which he starred, often ad-libbing as he went, and was trusted by his directorial friends to do so.
Details are still emerging in this terrible and unnecessary case, so we caution you to be as careful as you can as you proceed through this discussion. Obviously, suicide conversations bring up raw emotions, and maybe for some students, the memory of a friend, family member, or loved one. But it’s an important conversation to have, so pray that God uses you and your leaders before you lead your students.
The Video Clip:
A video clip that focuses on Robin Williams’ death can be found online at the following link:
This news was terribly sad to hear. Robin left behind a grieving family and millions of shocked fans. He was such a powerful force in family-friendly movies, and his absence will be noted by the current generation who loved his movies so much. Sadly, Mr. Williams succumbed to struggles that were related to depression, Parkinson’s Disease, and even drug use. At the time, he thought suicide was the best solution for his pain. It wasn’t, but his choice cannot be undone. What I want you to understand is that suffering is a part of every life – his, mine, yours – but the solution for our struggle is never suicide. The best solution is placing our hope in God, His faithfulness, and His love. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about this life-changing issue.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and how we learned about the death of Robin Williams.
- ASK A FEW: Did you have a favorite movie or role (or even line) from his years spent in the entertainment industry? If, so, what was it?
- ASK A FEW: How did it make you feel knowing that the guy who’d been such a big part of the movies from our childhood was gone forever?
- ASK A FEW: What do you think makes people commit suicide?
- ASK A FEW: If it were possible to go back to last week, what advice would you give Robin Williams?
- ASK A FEW: What does the world think of people who commit suicide? What do you think of people who commit suicide?
- ASK A FEW: What do you think God thinks about suicide? How do you know? (Leaders – Be careful here; this is a HUGE question, but students may give lots of varying answers. Be prepared to discuss this from a biblical standpoint, not an emotional one.)
- ASK A FEW: Without naming ANY names, do you know someone who committed suicide or even attempted suicide? What happened in the long run?
- ASK A FEW: Is there a good way to avoid suicide? If so, what is it? If not, why not?
Read the following passage:
Psalm 25:1-11 (NIV)
Of David. To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; 2 in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. 3 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. 4 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. 6 Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD. 8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. 10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant. 11 For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
There isn’t too much more that can be said about suicide. It’s tragic because it ends something so precious – life – so prematurely. Robin Williams made so many people laugh that they cried. His last decision on Earth will leave them in tears for a completely different reason. He will be missed terribly.
But God can use this awful and unnecessary event to bring about hope in the lives of others.
Hope is one of the greatest gifts that God gives us. We all face storms and doubts and struggles and defeat. But if our hope is truly in God, we never face those realities alone. We know that because Jesus came, as God, to live His life amongst us and to give His life for us. We never face darkness alone; in fact, Jesus is the light of the world that shows us exactly the way through our dark moments.
2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul wrote some comforting words in the midst of unthinkable suffering. Listen to what he had to say:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-10)
Did you catch all that he was facing? Yet, he wasn’t suicidal. In fact, he was hopeful…because of what Jesus had done for him!
All of us will face some sort of struggle in our lives. I tell you know with all confidence that suicide will never solve those problems. Your only hope at a solution lies in God, His love, and His faithfulness. If you know that, then praise God. If you know someone who desperately needs to hear that, then tell them as soon as you can.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.