‘This is a man who gave us the best of what he had’: Glenn reflects on the life of Robin Williams

On Monday, actor and comedian Robin Williams died of an apparent suicide at his California home. He was 63. On radio this morning, as someone who lost two family members to suicide and contemplated taking his own life, Glenn offered a unique insight into the life and death of the Hollywood heavyweight. Glenn shared his personal struggle with depression, addiction, and suicide and explained why audience laughter and adulation may have been the thing that kept Williams going as long as he did.

Below is an edited transcript of the monologue:

Sad news yesterday: Robin Williams died at 63. It looks like he hung himself. We'll have the official report today – as if it matters. The family asked for privacy and respect. It would be nice if we would give it to them. This is a man who gave us the best of what he had. A man who made us laugh, made us cry. He is one of the greatest clowns to live in the last hundred years.

I didn't know Robin Williams. But I think all of us felt we knew Robin Williams. We all knew that there was something inside of him that drove him to the point of madness. We all, I think, knew that something was inside of him that caused great pain. I'd like to believe that maybe, just maybe, we helped him live a little longer. I was talking to a friend of mine this morning about why comedians are like this. I'm not really sure. I'm not a doctor. We've had two suicides in my family, in my immediate family. Clinically, there's something that happens to people. There is that side of it.

If you're in a family that's dysfunctional, sometimes you become the one that makes everybody laugh because it's too horrible not to. If you could just make people laugh, you could find joy in their laughter, until you no longer hear the laughter anymore. It becomes almost addictive. I think Robin Williams was addicted to our laughter, addicted to our smiles, addicted to being able to make us feel better. It's a powerful tonic. In a way it's what we're all supposed to learn about, service. In the end, that's we're our highest self. That's when he was his highest self: Serving us, making us laugh.

How many people can cross all these boundaries? How many people could claim to have huge fans – that he really profoundly touched and maybe even perhaps changed the course of their life – in their 20s and have somebody my age, 50 or 60 that can say the same thing? That guy really touched me. I think Jeffy brought in the Mork from Ork doll today. I have it sitting on my desk today. What a great show. And how many things did he do that affected us and changed us?

I'm sure people will start to have the conversation on television, as they always do, because they're insipid and they're shallow and they're thinking is the kind of thinking that makes you fly a helicopter over a dead man's house. But I'm sure the conversations will go, ‘What was wrong with him?’ ‘What was the tragedy in his life?’ ‘What would drive him to this?’ ‘What could we have done to save him?’

Most likely, nothing.

What drove him to do this insanity: The insanity of clinical depression. I don't want to talk about Robin Williams' illness because nothing drives you to suicide other than insanity. But let me tell you something: The mind is one of the most powerful traps you have ever seen. The best piece of advice ever got from an alcoholic was: When you least expect it, expect it. It came from a good friend of mine, Jim Lago.

When you least expect it, expect it.

I didn't know what it meant at the time. What it meant was: You know yourself better than anybody. Your mind is an amazing machine, and you will build up a wall of defense on your alcoholism, and you will know, ‘I'm not going to drink.’ And somehow or another, one day, it will happen that you will think to yourself, ‘You know what? Well, this is different. I'm not going to drink because of this. This is a good reason to do it.’ And before you know it, because you didn't expect it to come that way, you'll find yourself drinking.

I am someone who was saved by a guy named Bobby Dries, a good friend of mine. Bobby was a guy who knew what suicidal tendencies were. He also knew my familial history. We worked together. Bobby had seen me spiral out of control when I was in Louisville, Kentucky. And one day I came in and I just said, ‘I'm going. Can't work here anymore. I'm leaving.’ He said, ‘Where you going?’ I said, ‘I don't know. Just not here.’

What he didn't know was every day for six months I was driving to work and there was a bridge abutment on 84 that I would pass every day on the way to and from work. And I would pray as soon as I got on Highway 84, in either direction, ‘Lord, just give me the strength to pull my car into it today.’ Every day that bridge abutment had my name on it. It was my cowardice that stopped me from killing myself. Thank God the Lord made me a coward. I couldn't think of shooting myself was too awful. Hanging myself was too much. But maybe, maybe I could pull my car into that bridge abutment.

Bobby said, ‘Would you do me a favor? Would you come with me to the hospital?’ I don't know why I said ‘yes,’ but I did. I met a doctor in the emergency room who medicated me, and it stopped me from praying for that bridge abutment. At that time, that seemed logical to me. It seemed like the only thing that I could do. I knew I was hurting everybody in my life. I knew that I was the cause of my problems. And there was no way out.

That is insanity.

Robin Williams' death is tragic, but I will tell you this: Out of his death will come laughter because someone right now – who is at that point of insanity – will find themselves some day laughing. The person who is feeling this way has to just have the glimmer of hope that tomorrow will be different – and if not tomorrow, the next day – that it will get better. It won't get better doing the same stuff that you're doing now, but it will get better.

I think Robin Williams fought this battle for so long, and – it's none of our business – but I don't know what was happening in his life that caused him to at some point say, ‘I don't want to take the medication anymore,’ or ‘I want to stop looking for what it is.’

Because there are two kinds of depression: I've done something, and it screwed me up. That's normal depression. But it can spiral into something called clinical depression where your brain chemistry actually changes, and that's where nothing makes sense anymore. You're just not thinking rationally. It happens so slowly. You slide into it so slowly. You don't notice.

I feel for Robin Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, who said, “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken.”

People who are in Robin Williams' position are great liars because they have spent their whole life lying to themselves. They have spent their whole life lying to audiences about how they really feel. In my mind's eye I see Robin Williams' wife kissing him goodbye, not knowing, and her saying, ‘Are you okay?’ And him looking her in the eye and lying to her and saying, ‘I'm fine,’ knowing that today would be his last day.

Sometimes no one can reach out to somebody because they don't want to listen. They're just tired. I know when I was in that position, I was just tired. My mother was just tired. My brother-in-law was just tired. Sometimes it ends horribly, but, other times, all it takes is someone to say, ‘It's going to get better. It's going to be okay.’ I know. I've been there.

If that happens to be you on either side of that equation, hear those words. If you're on the receiving end, hear those words because they're true. Maybe, however, you're on the giving end, and you know somebody that you're worried about, know that there's nothing that you can do to change them. But you can give them hope by just using those simple words: ‘It doesn't have to be this way. It's going to get better. There is help.’

The number of people serving life sentences now exceeds the entire prison population in 1970, according to newly-released data from the Sentencing Project. The continued growth of life sentences is largely the result of "tough on crime" policies pushed by legislators in the 1990s, including presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Biden has since apologized for backing those types of policies, but it seems he has yet to learn his lesson. Indeed, Biden is backing yet another criminal justice policy with disastrous consequences—mandatory drug treatment for all drug offenders.

Proponents of this policy argue that forced drug treatment will reduce drug usage and recidivism and save lives. But the evidence simply isn't on their side. Mandatory treatment isn't just patently unethical, it's also ineffective—and dangerous.

Many well-meaning people view mandatory treatment as a positive alternative to incarceration. But there's a reason that mandatory treatment is also known as "compulsory confinement." As author Maya Schenwar asks in The Guardian, "If shepherding live human bodies off to prison to isolate and manipulate them without their permission isn't ethical, why is shipping those bodies off to compulsory rehab an acceptable alternative?" Compulsory treatment isn't an alternative to incarceration. It is incarceration.

Compulsory treatment is also arguably a breach of international human rights agreements and ethical standards. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have made it clear that the standards of ethical treatment also apply to the treatment of drug dependence—standards that include the right to autonomy and self-determination. Indeed, according to UNODC, "people who use or are dependent on drugs do not automatically lack the capacity to consent to treatment...consent of the patient should be obtained before any treatment intervention." Forced treatment violates a person's right to be free from non-consensual medical treatment.

It's a useless endeavor, anyway, because studies have shown that it doesn't improve outcomes in reducing drug use and criminal recidivism. A review of nine studies, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, failed to find sufficient evidence that compulsory drug treatment approaches are effective. The results didn't suggest improved outcomes in reducing drug use among drug-dependent individuals enrolled in compulsory treatment. However, some studies did suggest potential harm.

According to one study, 33% of compulsorily-treated participants were reincarcerated, compared to a mere 5% of the non-treatment sample population. Moreover, rates of post-release illicit drug use were higher among those who received compulsory treatment. Even worse, a 2016 report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that people who received involuntary treatment were more than twice as likely to die of an opioid-related overdose than those with a history of only voluntary treatment.

These findings echo studies published in medical journals like Addiction and BMJ. A study in Addiction found that involuntary drug treatment was a risk factor for a non-fatal drug overdose. Similarly, a study in BMJ found that patients who successfully completed inpatient detoxification were more likely than other patients to die within a year. The high rate of overdose deaths by people previously involuntarily treated is likely because most people who are taken involuntarily aren't ready to stop using drugs, authors of the Addiction study reported. That makes sense. People who aren't ready to get clean will likely use again when they are released. For them, the only post-treatment difference will be lower tolerance, thanks to forced detoxification and abstinence. Indeed, a loss of tolerance, combined with the lack of a desire to stop using drugs, likely puts compulsorily-treated patients at a higher risk of overdose.

The UNODC agrees. In their words, compulsory treatment is "expensive, not cost-effective, and neither benefits the individual nor the community." So, then, why would we even try?

Biden is right to look for ways to combat addiction and drug crime outside of the criminal justice system. But forced drug treatment for all drug offenders is a flawed, unethical policy, with deadly consequences. If the goal is to help people and reduce harm, then there are plenty of ways to get there. Mandatory treatment isn't one of them.

Lindsay Marie is a policy analyst for the Lone Star Policy Institute, an independent think tank that promotes freedom and prosperity for all Texans. You can follow her on Twitter @LindsayMarieLP.

President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani joined Glenn Beck on Tuesday's radio program discuss the Senate's ongoing investigation into former vice president Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, and reveal new bombshell documents he's currently releasing.

Giuliani told Glenn he has evidence of "very, very serious crime at the highest levels of government," that the "corrupt media" is doing everything in their power to discredit.

He also dropped some major, previously unreported news: not only was Hunter Biden under investigation in 2016, when then-Vice President Biden "forced" the firing of Ukraine's prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, but so was the vice president himself.

"Shokin can prove he was investigating Biden and his son. And I now have the prosecutorial documents that show, all during that period of time, not only was Hunter Biden under investigation -- Joe Biden was under investigation," Giuliani explained. "It wasn't just Hunter."

Watch this clip to get a rundown of everything Giuliani has uncovered so far.

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For most Americans, the 1980s was marked by big hair, epic lightsaber battles, and school-skipping Ferris Bueller dancing his way into the hearts of millions.

But for Bernie Sanders — who, by the way, was at that time the oldest-looking 40-year-old in human history — the 1980s was a period of important personal milestones.

Prior to his successful 1980 campaign to become mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders was mostly known around the Green Mountain State as a crazy, wildly idealistic socialist. (Think Karl Marx meets Don Quixote.) But everything started to change for Sanders when he became famous—or, in the eyes of many, notorious—for being "America's socialist mayor."

As mayor, Sanders' radical ideas were finally given the attention he had always craved but couldn't manage to capture. This makes this period of his career particularly interesting to study. Unlike today, the Bernie Sanders of the 1980s wasn't concerned with winning over an entire nation — just the wave of far-left New York City exiles that flooded Vermont in the 1960s and 1970s — and he was much more willing to openly align himself with local and national socialist and communist parties.


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Over the past few weeks, I have been reading news reports of Sanders recorded in the 1980s — because, you know, that's how guys like me spend their Saturday nights — and what I've found is pretty remarkable.

For starters, Sanders had (during the height of the Soviet Union) a very cozy relationship with people who openly advocated for Marxism and communism. He was an elector for the Socialist Workers Party and promoted the party's presidential candidates in 1980 and 1984.

To say the Socialist Workers Party was radical would be a tremendous understatement. It was widely known SWP was a communist organization mostly dedicated to the teachings of Marx and Leon Trotsky, one of the leaders of the Russian Revolution.

Among other radical things I've discovered in interviews Sanders conducted with the SWP's newspaper — appropriately named The Militant (seriously, you can't make this stuff up) — is a statement by Sanders published in June 1981 suggesting that some police departments "are dominated by fascists and Nazis," a comment that is just now being rediscovered for the first time in decades.

In 1980, Sanders lauded the Socialist Workers Party's "continued defense of the Cuban revolution." And later in the 1980s, Sanders reportedly endorsed a collection of speeches by the socialist Sandinistas in Nicaragua, even though there had been widespread media reports of the Sandinistas' many human rights violations prior to Sanders' endorsement, including "restrictions on free movement; torture; denial of due process; lack of freedom of thought, conscience and religion; denial of the right of association and of free labor unions."

Sanders also traveled to Nicaragua and met with socialist President Daniel Ortega. He later called the trip a "profoundly emotional experience."

Sanders also traveled to Nicaragua and met with socialist President Daniel Ortega. He later called the trip a "profoundly emotional experience."

Comrade Bernie's disturbing Marxist past, which is far more extensive than what can be covered in this short article, shouldn't be treated as a mere historical footnote. It clearly illustrates that Sanders' brand of "democratic socialism" is much more than a $15 minimum wage and calls for single-payer health care. It's full of Marxist philosophy, radical revolutionary thinking, anti-police rhetoric, and even support for authoritarian governments.

Millions of Americans have been tricked into thinking Sanders isn't the radical communist the historical record — and even Sanders' own words — clearly show that he is. But the deeper I have dug into Comrade Bernie's past, the more evident it has become that his thinking is much darker and more dangerous and twisted than many of his followers ever imagined.

Tomorrow night, don't miss Glenn Beck's special exposing the radicals who are running Bernie Sanders' campaign. From top to bottom, his campaign is staffed with hard-left extremists who are eager to burn down the system. The threat to our constitution is very real from Bernie's team, and it's unlike anything we've ever seen before in a U.S. election. Join Glenn on Wednesday, at 9 PM Eastern on BlazeTV's YouTube page, and on BlazeTV.com. And just in case you miss it live, the only way to catch all of Glenn's specials on-demand is by subscribing to Blaze TV.

Justin Haskins (Jhaskins@heartland.org) is editorial director of The Heartland Institute and editor-in-chief of StoppingSocialism.com.

Candace Owens, BLEXIT founder and author of the upcoming book, "Blackout," joined Glenn Beck on Friday's GlennTV for an exclusive interview. available only to BlazeTV subscribers.

Candace dropped a few truth-bombs about the progressive movement and what's happening to the Democratic Party. She said people are practically running away from the left due to their incessant push to dig up dirt on anybody who disagrees with their radical ideology. She explained how -- like China and its "social credit score" -- the left is shaping America into its own nightmarish episode of "Black Mirror."

"This game of making sure that everyone is politically correct is a societal atom bomb. There are no survivors. There's no one that is perfect," Candace said. "The idea that humanity can be perfect is Godless. If you accept that there is something greater than us, then you accept that we a flawed. To be human is to be flawed."

Enjoy this clip from the full episode below:

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BlazeTV subscribers can watch the full interview on BlazeTV.com. Use code GLENN to save $10 off one year of your subscription.

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