Henry Rollins has issued an unqualified apology for his newspaper article that criticised Robin Williams for committing suicide – and he’s called on all those who were angered by his words to keep their complaints coming.
The former Black Flag frontman says he should have known better after spending most of a day answering angry messages – and a lifetime struggling with depression himself.
Last week he wrote that he couldn’t feel bad for actor Williams, who took his own life shortly after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, adding: “How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children? Choosing to kill yourself, rather than to be there for that child, is every shade of awful, traumatic and confusing. When someone negates their existence I no longer take this person seriously.”
He’s written a follow-up article for the LA Weekly, to be published on Monday – but wants his initial response to the backlash to be known sooner.
Rollins says: “For the last nine-plus hours, I have been answering letters from people from all over the world. The anger is off the scale – and in my opinion, well placed.
“The article caused a lot of hurt. This is perhaps one of the bigger understatements of all time. I read all the letters. Some of them were very long and the disappointment, resentment and ringing clarity was jarring.
“I have had a life of depression. Some days are excruciating. Knowing what I know and having been through what I have, I should have known better, but I obviously did not.
“That I hurt anyone by what I said, and I did hurt many, disgusts me. It was not at all my intent but it most certainly was the result.”
He maintains that hearing about a suicide gets him angry, but explains: “Not mad at them – mad at whatever got them there, and that no one magically appeared to somehow save them.”
And he continues: “I am not asking for a break from the caning. Take me to the woodshed as much as you see fit. If what I said has caused you to be done with me, I get it.
“I am deeply sorry. Down to my marrow. I can’t think that means anything to you, but I am. Completely sorry. It is not of my interest to hurt anyone but I know I did.”
Earlier this month Nikki Sixx voiced a backlash to Gene Simmons for the Kiss star’s controversial comments on suicide, but later called for an end to the “bashathon” and argued: “When people are listening, we have an opportunity to pass along some valuable and positive information.”
• Help is always there for anyone contemplating suicide. In the UK, you can call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (UK), visit Samaritans.org or find more options at NHS.uk. Elsewhere in the world you can find contact information via the International Association for Suicide Prevention. Many other options are also available.