Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness

Internet, we need to have a talk.

I’ve had a number of readers ask why I’ve neglected to write about Amanda Bynes this last year. It’s simple, really. I don’t believe that celebrities are “fair game,” and that, when they have very human and very difficult struggles, I should capitalize on those things by writing an article, however well-intentioned. I believe they are deserving of privacy and respect, by virtue of their being people.

However, I’m making an exception here, because in the midst of the negative and callous press that Bynes has received, I think it’s time we had a chat about it from a different perspective. And then, after we’re done, I think it’s time we stop speculating about it altogether. Deal?

First and foremost, there is no way for us to know what, if anything, Bynes has been diagnosed with. The family has denied schizophrenia and bipolar diagnoses. And when I write this article about Bynes, I am only operating on the possibility – not the assumption – that these diagnoses are true.

Until Amanda Bynes comes out and self-identifies this way, it is not our place to make an assumption about her mental state. Most of us are not psychiatrists, and even if we were, none of us can make a diagnosis based on a Twitter feed. And it is Bynes’ prerogative to keep certain aspects of her life, including her health care, private.

For the sake of argument, we’re going to roll with the possibility, not the assumption, that Bynes may have bipolar and schizophrenia.

And on that note, I’m going to offer you a sobering statistic:

People with co-occurring bipolar and schizophrenia have one of the highest suicide attempt rates of any group. 70.6% of these individuals will attempt suicide in their lifetime.

You would think this would frighten us, and that we would be offering Bynes compassion on the mere basis that what she may be facing is, without a doubt, deadly.

Yet the vast majority of press and articles surrounding Bynes’ mental state seems to ignore the stark reality of her struggle, and instead, opt to mock her erratic and unusual behavior. Rather than recognizing that she may have an illness, they have turned mental illness into a spectacle to watch, enjoy, and ridicule.

We, as a culture, are alarmingly desensitized to the seriousness of mental illness, particularly when it affects celebrities. Whenever a famous person has a “breakdown,” or goes off to rehab, there is always a sensationalized headline and a gawking that we collectively do. We treat it like a performance to consume and be shocked by, to laugh at, to enjoy.

We have made mental illness into a form of entertainment, and this is reflected in the articles that have been written about Amanda Bynes as of late.

If no one has explained this to you, let me be the first to say that it is morally repugnant that we, as a society, are mocking mentally ill people.

If it is indeed true that Amanda Bynes has both bipolar and schizophrenia, she faces an uphill battle. These are both diseases with high mortality rates, and devastating symptoms that are difficult to treat. And while she faces these illnesses, the entire world is watching. To have the audacity of laughing and poking fun as she struggles with these painful disorders is truly disgusting.

It’s all fun and games until someone dies, as was the case with Robin Williams. When celebrities have very public “breakdowns,” we find them entertaining, sensational, intriguing. When celebrities die from these illnesses, however, we grieve for them, celebrate their lives, and profess our sympathy for their struggle.

Amanda Bynes may be battling two illnesses that could very easily kill her. Why is she not receiving the same level of respect, tact, and compassion that we afford those who have already died at the hands of these same illnesses?

Are we only deserving of dignity and respect if we die?

Does Amanda Bynes need to die by suicide before we will start valuing her life? How fucked up is that?

No matter what Bynes posts on twitter, or what wigs she wears, what we need to understand as outsiders is that something very difficult and frightening is happening to Amanda Bynes — and it is irresponsible to talk about it any other way, whether it’s to poke fun at it, or reduce it to her being “crazy.” In either scenario, it diminishes her personhood.

Why this reminder needs to happen is beyond me, but apparently it does: Bynes needs compassion, not ridicule, not laughter. Her struggles, whatever they may be, do not exist for your enjoyment.

Anyone who thinks an involuntary psychiatric hold is fun or amusing is horribly misguided. Anyone who thinks psychosis or paranoia is a walk in the park has clearly never been there. Anyone who thinks schizophrenia or bipolar is hilarious has never had their life devastated by these disorders.

I have. And I can tell you – there’s no pain on earth quite like it.

Anyone who has forgotten that Amanda Bynes is a human being first and foremost needs to step back, and do some serious soul-searching.

Any journalist or columnist who thinks Bynes’ behavior is great material for a lighthearted article needs to reexamine their motivations, and decide for themselves what kind of writer they want to be. Someone who profits off of someone’s pain? Or someone with integrity?

As someone with bipolar disorder, I want to offer a reminder to those who do not suffer from the disorder that making a mockery out of our struggle is dehumanizing. This should go without saying, but apparently it must be said: Mental illness is not a joke. Mental illness is not funny. Mental illness does not exist to amuse you.

If Amanda Bynes has taught us anything, it’s that mental illness can, in fact, touch anyone. It exists in every community, every city, every race, every social class, every gender. Celebrities are not immune to these devastating disorders. In fact, 13.6 million Americans live with a serious mental illness, and if Amanda Bynes is among them, she will need support and compassion to get through it.

What message are we sending, as journalists, bloggers, and writers, if we treat mental illness with the same brevity and amusement as writing about Kim Kardashian’s ass?


Did you cry when Robin Williams died, but laugh when Amanda Bynes was taken to the hospital? Why is that? I’m challenging you to really think about the ways that we treat folks with mental illness.

When we make these disorders into a joke, we become complicit in creating a culture where mentally ill people are taught to feel ashamed, isolated, and broken. And when we uphold that stigma instead of challenging it, it’s not surprising that so many people with these illnesses opt to take their own lives.

We need to do better. Not just for Amanda Bynes, but for all the people worldwide who suffer from these disorders.

It’s not a spectacle. It’s a goddamn illness.

Sam Dylan Finch is a freelance writer and queer activist, currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, a queer and feminist perspective on current events and politics.

Visit his official website:

UPDATE (10/20/14): Due to the confusion surrounding the title, the article has been renamed from “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Dies: Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness,” to omit the first portion. The intent of the original title was to compare and contrast the treatment of celebrities before and after they die — never to suggest that Bynes had passed away.

UPDATE (10/22/14): A new article has been written in response to this piece going viral.

UPDATE (11/9/14): Commenters have pointed out that co-occurring bipolar and schizophrenia is commonly referred to as “schizoaffective disorder.”

UPDATE (11/14/14): There is now an animated version of this article!

As of 11/15, comments have been disabled on this article.

588 thoughts on “Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness

  1. josie says:

    I liked this until I scrolled to the end and the writer used God’s name in Vain. I think its ridiculous that we curse and use God’s name in vain to drive home our points. Makes an educated person look uneducated.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sam Dylan Finch says:

      I think it’s equally frustrating when folks assume that everyone believes in their God. I apologize if I offended you, but I do not apologize for not sharing your beliefs. Being an atheist does not make me uneducated. Respectfully, SDF

      Liked by 6 people

  2. Michael says:

    Set aside the issue of mental disorders. Why don’t we stop buying tabloids and give all celebrities the privacy that they deserve. I don’t care who’s dating who I don’t care what supermarket Angelina Jolie gets her bananas from. I only want to see celebrities at their best on the big screen or the playing field or when they are doing something great for the community. The only time I think their privacy should be breached is when they do something illegal but on the same level of news as everyone else. If I steal a chocolate bar from 7-11 that would never make the news. Why should it make the news if some celebrity does it. If you are reading about celebrities and feel better about yourself because of their faults do your self a favour. Volunteer at a children’s hospital or at a veterans center. Go spend quality time with the kids outside. No electronics. There are many things you can do in this world to feel better about yourself other than reading about celebrities faults.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Acadia says:

    Thank you for saying what has needed to be said for a long time.
    It is a topic that has been weighing on me lately. Shortly after the death of Robin Williams I learned of the death of one of my first loves. Nearly 25 years ago this man did the most incredibly loving thing, he pushed me completely out of his life. He had grown up with the reality of mental illness and had watched with great pain what his father’s schizophrenia had done to his mother. I saw symptoms in him and encouraged him in every manner I could to talk to someone finally on a visit home to see his mother he finally sought help and was diagnosed schizoaffective disorder. He returned and took a track that while hurtful to me at the time I know now had to have been one of the most painful things he had ever done. I figured out what he had done years later after a conversation with his mother and after he had slipped thru the cracks and out of treatment. It took me many more years to fully understand what he had done for me. I only regret that I didn’t take an opportunity before his death to reach out to him and thank him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Timothy Ramsey says:

      Sam, thank you. Very thoughtful, compassionate, and well-written. The mentally ill also have a lifespan 10-15 years shorter than others, are more likely to get cancer, and more likely to die from cancer if they get it. These are human beings! I would show compassion even to the most cruel and vile human being if they were suffering. What I say and do reflects who I am, not who they are, or what anyone thinks they “deserve”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t mean to speak for that person, but that is not what I think he/she meant. What I got from it is that he/she realizes why their break up happened. He did it for him/her because he loved him/her. When it happened, he/she was stuck in his/her own heartache and could not see the true motives behind the breakup. I did not get the sense that he/she was “glad,” but touched that he would put his/her feelings above his own.


  4. anonymous says:

    Thank you so much. As a person who struggles with serious depression people making a spectacle out of mental illness upsets me greatly. I have experienced feeling ashamed, isolated, etc because I have depression. I’ve had people tell me to pretend to be happy and not be a Debbie Downer. I spent years asking myself what was wrong with me, I just couldn’t feel happy. I’ve cried because it hurt too much to live. I’ve been on solid treatment for about a year now and my family just doesn’t understand. I find it hard to try and explain how I feel to my friends that don’t suffer from depression because they can’t fully understand. Frankly I think people need to stop making mental illness a subject that shouldn’t be discussed. People need to start to understand the seriousness of mental illness and they should be persecuted or treated differently than others. I can’t really help that my brain chemicals don’t work right, I can’t just snap out of it. People need to start being supportive rather than saying mental illness is something that should be talked about because it’s an uncomfortable subject. When Robin’s death was talked about I hoped that it would help try to make the approach to mental illness for serious, it’s really not something anything should joke about. Mental Illness is a really and serious matter, it’s time people saw it in that way. Mental Illness is not a joke, I want people to stop trying to make it into one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Margaret says:

      Anonymous — I agree, I also was hoping that mental illness would be talked about more after Robin Williams’ death. I lost my son 5 years ago at the age of 22 and my brother 2 years ago at the age of 35. Both suffered from depression. Hindsight for me is 20/20 now. Since losing my son, I have been part of community walks, raised funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and talk about suicide to others. It’s hard for me, but I force myself to, if I can help one person, then me being uncomfortable for a moment or two is worth it.
      I pray you can get the support you need to continue dealing with your mental illness. There are support groups, etc., that you might consider joining, the people there truly understand. I understand, and I will pray for you!


  5. lchthree says:

    Dear “josie,”

    I was surprised when reading through the comments later today, for a couple of reasons. Initially I simply wanted to read the insights of the other readers, but your sentiment shared with the writer threw me off a bit, and I would like to share the reason why. Often we live in a world where mobile devices and things like “autocorrect” garble our proper English into a mishmosh of what tends to be called “textspeech”. I find it an odd thing that somebody who, and please bear with me because I am looking at this from a bystander’s logical point-of-view, the tack you take about the writer ” taking the Lords Name in vain” is inaccurate, as the word “goddamn” was used, not “God Damn” this or that, or “this God Damned xyz thing”. I’m really sorry to be playing the role of the grammar perfectionist, but it regardless of the writer’s point of view, theological beliefs, or personal belief system, I think that one was just a grammatical misunderstanding, as ” goddamn” IS an expletive, but does not carry religious overtones in the modern American Dialects of English unless used in its pronoun or Proper Form. It essentially has become watered down into a more intense form of gosh darn it, but with more foul language. The religious connotation must be specified to be grammatically valid nowadays. In any case, to close, I feel I should state I feel strongly in everyone’s right to freedom of expression, as well as freedom of religion, and the Bill of Rights is just something I happen to think the early leadership of our country managed to get done correctly. Thanks for reading my tidbit here, and I hope everyone has a pleasant evening, no matter what difficulties they are facing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Danae says:

    As someone who did a voluntary 3 day stay in psychiatric care because family members said I was 51/50 and had mental health problems, from someone who has been shunned by family because one person wants to slanderously label me with a mental illness, this is not funny, this is no joke. Thankfully, I was well, and didn’t want to die until I checked myself in. It’s not a comfortable place, and as a caring person, what others were going through in there upset me because their situations were not something I could solve. If someone is suffering from mental illness or you believe they may be, wouldn’t you help? Most would help a person we see trip or fall. We instinctively put out our arm or hand to catch the person or help them up. It’s not a show. It’s a life. Someone’s life that has value as does yours just because they breathe like you breathe. Behave with compassion and care. Be part of a solution not part of a problem. Be respectful.


    • p51djm22 says:

      If your family wanted you to get checked because you were showing what they took to be symptoms of heart disease, would you consider that a slander? You’re part of the problem. Mental illness isn’t a derogatory label to be worn like “pedophile.”


  7. lizzi says:

    Mental illness hits close to home and it breaks my heart. There is nothing more devastating. If only I could make things better!


  8. erin says:

    In late 1977, my older sister had a psychotic break. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. My patents, on the advice of family members who were therapists took her to a group home in SF. They practiced a new form of treatment that used no drugs, only therapy. 5 months later, my sister jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. I still miss her every day. I am glad that there are more treatment options these days that allow people to be in community and lead functional lives, rather than being warehoused and drugged. People may laugh about “crazy people” because they dont want to admit their own struggles or their own pain. It is a shitty way of keeping it all at arms length when we should be embracing them instead. I am glad that Sam, in sharing his bipolar condition, can give hope to others who are struggling. The mind is an amazing gift of nature that can take us to the moon or to the depths of hell, or many places in between. May you, Sam, continue to be the trumpet blast that wakes all of us up to the pain and struggle of mental illness and the reality of that struggle every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Justin Yates says:

    Whats funny is when I was younger and she started on Nickelodeon, I thought she had some sort of screw loose. She never quite sat right with me, always found something off about her. I just figured she was a weird one.


  10. heather says:

    My cousin whom was schizophrenic committed suicide nine years ago he was 30. To be honest he was very reclusive and didn’t socialize much, and lived alone in an apartment. He battled with mental illness for the majority of his life, and to this day I know that his parents(my aunt & uncle) wish they could have done more for him. Just like with a drug addict or alcoholic, a person with mental illness has to want to seek help for themselves. You can’t force it upon them, as with anything in this life.

    I guess it’s hard for people to take someone like Amanda Bynes seriously, because she is so well known for her outlandish personality/acting skills. I’m not denying that there isn’t something going on with her, but I will admit in the very beginning I truly believed she was doing this for some sort of attention or making a mockery of other celebrities like Lindsay Lohan.

    I wish her well and I hope she can find the road to recovery, if she truly does have some sort of mental disorder and/or needs to sober up from drugs.


  11. one says:

    Deespite your “edit”, this article is clearly designed to make people think Amanda died and you know it. You tried to take the high road by telling people not to judge her, but you lost all credibility with this disgusting “clickbait” title. If you really cared, you would change the title. You suck.


    • Sam Dylan Finch says:

      Comments like this normally would not be approved, as they very clearly violate the Comments Policy that is established on this website. But I wanted to address this personally, because it’s important to me.

      This blog has been my hobby and a labor of love. I never started the blog with the intention of it “taking off” or “going viral.” It was what I did for fun and how I explored topics that I was really passionate about. I created this as a space for me, myself, and I.

      I never cared if anyone read it, and frankly, I still don’t. Is it great that the website is now visible? Sure, I really appreciate that people take the time to read what I have to say and are so interested in it. But was that the reason I created the website? Absolutely not.

      “Click bait” implies that I cared in the first place if someone read the article. And on that, you’re wrong. I wrote the article because I was angry about how Amanda Bynes was being treated — not because I was looking to become “internet famous” or because my self-worth is determined by how many hits my dumb blog has. My blog had a small audience that I cared deeply about, and was happy with. And I had no concern about whether or not people clicked on the article.

      Believe it or not, the people behind the blogs and the youtube channels that I’m sure you regularly frequent and spew hate at are actual living, human beings. And if you’re so concerned about being compassionate and nonjudgmental, I’m baffled as to why you’ve made it your mission to attack and degrade someone you know nothing about. If you truly believe in respecting other people, this comment is not the way of going about it.

      I hope that, whatever void is existing in your life that compels you to be angry and spiteful toward total strangers, that void is filled soon. And I mean that — being unnecessarily critical is not going to make you happy. I think you should really rethink your approach here. I don’t actually suck. I’m a person who cares a lot about other people, and am doing the best that I can to make a difference in the world.

      And if you spend the energy that you use being negative and, instead, use it to do something positive in the world, you can make a difference for people like Amanda Bynes instead of hurting people who are just trying to help.

      You don’t have to like the title or like the article. You don’t even have to like me. But do you really want to bring more negativity and hatred into a world that is already so immersed in it? You have the potential to make a change in the world, and in my opinion, I’d use that potential for something good.

      Respectfully, SDF


      • rross says:

        When I read the headline, I did not think Amanda had also died. It seemed clear you thought that people were having sport with her and you were expressing concern for her. I hadn’t even read your article yet.


      • Amanda B. says:

        I appreciate the fact that you never thought loads of people would read your blog, but they do. You may claim you don’t care if anyone reads it, but you monitor and respond to comments respectfully, so I think you do care. Our words have power and I believe you are too bright and insightful not to have realized the power of the words in your title. If your intention was to stand up for a person treated unjustly, you shouldn’t have capitalized on her name in a misleading way. I respect your message regarding our callous treatment on mental illness, but I’m calling you out on the title because I believe you to be a person who seeks and promotes truth. What you put out there for the world matters and is a reflection of you. It’s something to be mindful of.


      • Sam Dylan Finch says:

        This is an article about Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness. There is nothing misleading about the title — the title states the subject of the piece.

        Nowhere in this title is there anything about death.

        Nowhere in this title is there anything about suicide.

        Nowhere in this title, or in the article, for that matter, is it stated that Bynes has died.

        There have been dozens of other articles where Amanda’s name appeared alongside Robin’s, because their struggles have parallels.

        I understand how the original title could be confusing. I listened to comments, and I met with my team. We came together, discussed it, and changed it. If I really cared about click bait, I would never have changed that title — but I do care, and I changed it accordingly.

        But I refuse to change the title again, because there is nothing misleading about it. This is an article about Bynes, Williams, and Mental Illness. And the title is appropriate for that reason.

        I talk about both of those individuals, and I discuss mental illness. The title is accurate, and reflects the content of the article.

        The title isn’t changing, and I, nor the moderators, will not be responding to further comments regarding the title from this point on.


    • Sara says:

      No, you suck. There isn’t any indictation that this article is about Amanda Bynes being dead. The author did a fantastic job or portraying the difficulties that those with mental illness and or addiction face on a daily basis. You seem to be quite arrogant with your comment. Did you eve read the article before slandering it? My friend you seriously need to check yourself, and while your at it keep your idiotic mouth shut about shit you very CLEARLY aren’t educated enough to understand. Do us all a favor and keep your small minded ideas to yourself.


  12. Rachel says:

    I’m disgusted with all the crying over Robin Williams. Everyone crying “but he was so talented and gave so much”. Nobody talks about when HE wanted. What did anyone do for him? What if He wanted to be given what he gave everyone. Honestly the selfishness of the entire internet made me want to murder someone ( not literally please). I just felt sorry that he seemed to be surrounded by people telling him “But you’re so talented , you have so much to give”, without sparing a thought for him. Only what he could give. I know this isn’t what people probably meant, but it’s in the flipped compliments that one can feel truly lonely.


  13. lindsay says:



  14. Susan says:

    Thank you for bringing light to a very delicate and difficult topic. Society has knowingly or unknowingly brought shame to those who suffer from mental illness ~ as you have said mocking, making fun of, criticizing ~ to a point where it has created an environment of rather seeking help people huddle in embarrassment trying to not let anyone know their pain. Despite the government of some states saying they need to strengthen their resources to help people, they have really ostracized them, as when they seek help they penalize them rather than help. Why is it so important to the media and others to prove that Robin Williams didn’t have drugs or alcohol in his system? Would they do the same for a common person as myself? The answer is a resounding, “NO!” Though if you are famous everyone feels the need to probe and investigate it to death and continue to cause pain to their family members. As someone who has had mental illness and suicide impact their life personally, it is not something people really want to know, we as survivors are left with to deal with our pain and grief alone or criticized by others. We are left with questions from others of, “Why?” did they do it. Does it really matter! Do you not think that any of us personally affected by it would have changed it to a different end! It doesn’t matter why as if one reflects, the final end was that they were in so much emotional pain that the only way to alleviate it was to end their life. God bless you for having the strength and courage to write about this despite I’m sure the knowledge of knowing you would be criticized in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Carrie says:

    In our haste to mock celebrities for their shortcomings (both mental and otherwise), we neglect to think about what our behavior implies to others who struggle with mental illness. When we mock celebrities for mental illness, we tell others that their disease is something to be ashamed of, rather than something that deserves treatment; this inevitably leads to fewer and fewer people seeking help, which, of course, results in drastic (often fatal) measures being taken.
    It’s time we create a culture that not only respects mental illness as a legitimate medical malady, but that also contributes openly and freely to the advancement of knowledge and patient care in communities worldwide.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sarah says:

    Thank you for writing this. A year and a half ago, I tried to take my own life. I was placed in an emergency crisis center, and then my husband had to take “responsibility of me” before there was any consideration of release. When I got out I was ridiculed for the cuts going up and down my arms and legs. Being accused of wanting attention and put down was bad, but my husband HATING me for a year after that was much, much worst. He didn’t understand why I would do that to him or the children, when you get to that place in your head you start to think it would be better for everyone if you were gone. Here was a mother that couldn’t function. I was terrified of answer the door and even the phone. I slept for 15hrs a day because I couldn’t face the world. Then for a few weeks I would feel like I was on top of the world giving false hope to my family that everything was perfect. I still get asked what drove me to it and I have no way to properly explain it. If one felt the over powering dark and repressive, suffocating fear and disgust for yourself then I think one could understand a bit more. I am on medication now and am doing better, I still have panic attacks and irrational fears, but I am a functioning member of society and a better wife and mother. I wont say things are all unicorns and rainbows, but I am a work in progress and that is(in my opinion) all one can be when dealing with this debilitating disease. In my experiences your never “cured” but you are recovering, it is a constant battle, but one worth fighting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam Dylan Finch says:

      I am so glad you’re still here to share this story, and glad that you’re making progress. I couldn’t agree more — it’s a battle, but it’s worth the struggle. For what it’s worth, you aren’t alone in the fight. Wishing you all the best!


  17. Kel says:

    I know someone who was told she was schizophrenic and bipolar by family members after coming out with allegations of sexual abuse by her father. It’s not uncommon for abuse survivors to appear emotionally unstable and psychotic as they face their past. I still think is a possibility with Amanda. Denial and repression are powerful mechanisms that originally serve to help the psyche cope and survive. It can be difficult to work through.


  18. butterflyblue85 says:

    That was a extremely well written post. I remember how many people joked about the pictures of Britney when she was hospitalized and tied to the gurney headed to the hospital. It is sickening. My whole blog is dedicated to recovery from anorexia (all EDs), depression, and suicidal ideation. It is unbelievable how many people are suffering and dealing with no support from friends and family, and they lack that support because of the way the disorders are joked about in the media. It is sickening.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Vivienne Johnson says:

    Thanks to Sarah for her words of describing depression:
    “If one felt the over powering dark and repressive, suffocating fear and disgust for yourself then I think one could understand a bit more. YOU GET TO THAT PLACE IN YOUR HEAD YOU START TO THINK IT WOULD BE BETTER FOR EVERYONE IF YOU WERE GONE.” “Here was a mother that couldn’t function. I was terrified of answering the door and even the phone. I slept for 15hrs a day because I couldn’t face the world. ”
    This is what it feels like when your in a dark deep pit of depression but worse! I am not ‘there’ anymore but sometimes close to it. I take anti-depressants, live a relatively normal life, and, I am glad to be on this planet with more friends than I ever thought I would have and a family who loves me. Understanding why people suicide is easy if you know what they think and feel like. The above sentence in bold type IS WHY. They don’t believe that they are worth the trouble and HATE THE WAY THEY MAKE THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY SUFFER. Their pain is indescribable and they see no end to their misery and the misery they cause those they love.
    How you can prevent it is by getting them help, even if it’s against their will. They need to be in a place where people understand their depression, can treat it and, hopefully, prevent them from suicide. These places NEED to exist but where they don’t, a doctor should be able to help find a solution. Thanks Sam for providing a ‘forum’ for people to express their thoughts and feelings that people actually read and contribute to.
    Vivienne from Australia xo

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Kenny says:

    I’m not a big fan of celebrities gossip, but if people think Amanda Bynes is being funny, retarded, annoying due to what you read on the gossip page or online, you are the one being retarded, we don’t know what is wrong with her, but we do know that she is facing serious mental illness, and mental illness is not a joke, it can cost someone life, they have another voice inside their head that telling them different things, so please don’t judge the book so quickly, have a heart, instead of making funny or negative comments on her, “think” again before you open your mouth, I, from the bottom of my heart, I’m wishing her get well very soon, she is really one great talented actress


    • Dawn says:

      I appreciate that you clearly understand the struggle for people with mental illness and that you want to spread compassion for their challenges, but you have overlooked something important in your comment:

      By using the word ‘retarded’ as a synonym for ‘stupid’ or ‘irrational’ you are creating the same type of negative climate around developmental disability that also surrounds mental illness. Since you clearly understand the value of how your words can impact others I am asking you to think about this and potentially change it.🙂 It can be hard to break a habit, but it makes a difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Tom says:

    This is honestly one of the most powerful and well written articles I have ever read. Thank you to the author for compassionately and professionally pointing this out to the media and the public. I hope this starts an awareness to this malicious and deadly discrimination and people stop going with the flow and speak up for humanity. I have personally suffered from minor depression and addictions and that has been devistating at times in my life. I know is it’s been for me and others similar to bynes. It’s sad. But this gives me hope that there are other compassionate people like this author who will change the Statius quo in the future. Great read. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Beth says:

    I have to say that your article is very well written. In addition I am glad that you talk and deal with mental illness as an illness that needs treatment and public understanding. For the last 13 years I have worked at a mental health facility and I see what becomes of people who feel they must hide their struggles. To that end they refuse medications which makes them a danger to themselves.

    People need to understand that mental illness is an illness just like diabetes and high cholesterol, and the more people that look at it as such then maybe more people would not feel stigmatized for admitting they struggle with it.


  23. Ana DaCosta says:

    I don’t know anyone personally who was laughing at her or even talking about her problems in a negative way. I graduated from high school ten years ago so I haven’t bumped into anyone in my professional or personal world who would take the time to be “entertained” by this. Our time and responsibilities are far more important than wasting it making fun of mental illness. Perhaps, it is the youth you are lecturing to? I don’t know any responsible adult that thinks this is funny.


  24. betti says:

    As a mother of a child that has been diagnosed with Bipolar and Schizoaffective Disorder, it is very heartbreaking to see this beautiful person struggle for what most of us take for granted, just the simple task of waking up and getting moving is sometimes very painful for my daughter, her motivation can be very low or non existent at times. She tries to behave “Normal” whatever that might seem to her and yes it is very frustrating to see other peoples reactions once they find out her diagnosis or see something amiss in her behavior. Even the people that have gotten to know her have actually seen her while in “Episode” and not had the foresight
    to call and let us know.

    She was diagnosed 4 years ago and it has been a uphill struggle to get her the most basic human needs, like housing (8 years waiting list), she is on SSI and she cannot afford to rent an apartment by any means.
    Let alone Utilities, food…etc…

    If you have any suggestions as to where she can seek this kind of help I would appreciate it.

    Southern California is where we call home.

    Thank you for this forum.



  25. B says:

    Writers like you really annoy me. You think you’ve suffered more than other people, you think you know more, and you have the arrogance to tell people who they are and how they should be. One day you’ll realize you are not special, that everyone has a struggle, and that people don’t need you to live their lives in a manner that suites them.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. StephB says:

    i am so glad to finally hear a different perspective on these issues. All we hear is negativity when it comes to anyone having flaws especially mental illness. Its brushed off as something chosen as though the person wanted it. As a recovering drug addict and person suffering from depression/anxiety among other things and whos attempted suicide i understand it. Sometimes the things that are said about someone are easily connected to the same things our loved ones face. and its hurtful. I notice it a lot more sober than i ever did loaded. And for those who seperate the concept of a drug problem or mental illness being the issue here i encourage you to try a new perspective. Statically many addicts become substance abusers to mask or cope with mental illnesses that they dont know they have. Which is unfortunate because addiction and mental illness are serious and often fatal. They also carry many similar characteristics. Now this is mosty just observation but mental illness is shunned and put in the closet as is addiction. Those who live with it are ashamed and treated as lesser human beings. Its a process of isolation. And being downed on and pushed aside and made to feel alone leads people not to get help and to sometimes end their lives. Others do so even with help but at least those who get help have a higher chance of survival. No one persons life should be held greater or lesser as everyone is capable of amazing things. Regardless of any kind of problem or flaw they may have. Recovery from anything is a process and these people need support and encouragement not to be bashed and treated poorly. We need to be wiling to support and love them and if they choose to embrace it we get the joy of watching someone learn to love themselves. No one should have to feel alone. And even if we cant help everyone we can show them we are here and we care.


  27. KarenW says:

    I agree that this topic is important to discuss, as I and a few friends suffer from mental disorders. Typically, people don’t understand and assume that we should just be able to “snap out of it” if we tried. But, I find this article slightly inappropriate. Amanda Bynes has NOT been identified as having any of the disorders discussed. The cause of addiction (to anything: fame, partying, drinking) or simdple irresponsible behavior may not necessarily be ingrained in your brain as schizophrenia or such. Are you saying that everyone who exhibits these traits has a reason for it that they can’t control without therapy or medication? If my child DID have a medical disorder that is being interpreted and widely assumed as being wild and crazy I WOULD address the media to a) clean her name and reputation, and b) draw public attention to the problems (and additional research needed!) for mental disorders.


    • KarenW says:

      I take back the word “addiction” re: drinking/partying and replace it with “really enjoying and love doing, despite possible consequences”.


    • Sam Dylan Finch says:

      Actually, you are incorrect. Amanda Bynes announced via Twitter that she was diagnosed as bipolar.

      And no, you can stop right there at the “are you saying” bit. All I’m saying is what’s clearly stated in the article, nothing more. The media has no right to treat anyone with a mental illness the way that Bynes is being treated. That is the point of the article — that the stigma being upheld by media needs to be addressed.

      Respectfully, SDF


      • KarenW says:

        If she has admitted it, I take back my comment. I was basing it on the statement that her parents denied it and that she has not come out and self-identified with the disorders.


  28. AJ says:

    Sam, beautifully written, for the love of man kind. If only more people would stand up to protect and live a life of love this world would be a much happier place!


  29. Samantha says:

    I respect your unbiasness in this situation. I would like to point out that it is a little offensive to say psychiatrists are the ones who give diagnoses. Psychologists and mental health counselors do too.


    • Sam Dylan Finch says:

      I’m sorry that I offended you, but I want to point out that I never once said in this article that psychiatrists are the only ones who give diagnoses.

      I say this with all due respect, because I believe that you have the best of intentions. However, I’m aware. I’ve been diagnosed by all three.

      I mention psychiatrists once, in passing, to make the point that we are not qualified to give diagnoses based on Bynes’ twitter feed. I never said they are the only ones who give diagnoses.

      I could say “you’re not a chef, you shouldn’t be making a recipe that complicated” and that doesn’t mean I’m stating that chefs are the only people who cook.

      I don’t mean to be rude, and I appreciate that you took the time to leave the comment, but I think you misunderstood the point I made with that statement.


  30. ruby says:

    My illness began at about the age of 7 but was not correctly diagnosed until 20, I struggle everyday, I am now 33 and only about a year ago found a right combo of meds to keep me stable long periods of time, but everyday I fear of “the other shoe dropping”, I have PTSD, bi-polar disoder, pschytsoeffective, and borderline personality, and after accepting this is my life, I too left the love of my life so that he wouldn’t have to spend his life taking care of me, making sure I took my meds, making sure I didn’t hurt myself, staying sober, and I wouldn’t be able to have a child of our own, now he is married and has a child and it was the best thing I did for someone I love, I also gave my children to my mother because I had a breakdown so severe I felt I could not care for them properly… mental illness is serious, and not everyone gets better first time around, I have been hospitalized 17 times since the age of 14, my last one was 2 yrs ago, the longest I’ve gone in a long time, but I still hit lows and bouts of severe mania, but am educated now and know when its time to call for help, Ive been suicidal maybe 6 times if not more, luckily someone was around that my attempts failed, these disorders are no joke, we cannot control what is happening inside us, believe me we wish we could

    Liked by 1 person

  31. John says:

    So you and your team do this for free? C’mon man, it’s a good article but to imply that you don’t profit financially from it is absurd, if you’re going to keep it real then keep it real all the way.


    • Sam Dylan Finch says:

      Are you kidding me? Where would that money come from? No one has donated to me, and the ads are from WordPress and WordPress gets the money from the ads that they place.

      I’ve made zero dollars from this to date — in fact, I’ve lost money in this venture just to pay for the domain.

      I’m living off of student loans and struggling financially right now, and it’s offensive when people come onto my blog and assume that I’m rolling in piles of money from this. I’m not. Believe it or not, I’m just a grad student doing this as my hobby. Which used to be fun and amazing, until the loads of personal attacks came rolling in.

      This is why I shouldn’t read the comments. This is so disgusting.

      Comments are disabled now, permanently. I don’t want anymore rubbish on this thread.

      Liked by 1 person

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