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Talk:Robin Williams

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"Committed suicide" vs. "Died by suicide"Edit

I noticed some back-and-forth changes in the lead paragraph - "committed suicide" --> "died by suicide" --> "committed suicide" (diff and diff), and a recent change ("committed suicide" --> "died by suicide") in the Death section (diff).

Three points:

  • Which term is most appropriate has been debated several times on the English Wikipedia, specifically regarding the present article in August 2014 and November 2014; and more recently on Village Pump in October-November 2017; and a related discussion on the Manual of Style (MOS) Talk page.
  • The consensus from all of these discussions is that "committed suicide" is acceptable.
  • Until we reach a consensus for the present article (Robin Williams), please do not make any further changes (edits).

Proposal: I suggest that we keep the current version with regard to these terms (05:15 UTC, 12 December 2017‎) because it represents a compromise in that "committed suicide" is used in the lead paragraph; "died by suicide" is used in the first sentence of the Death section; and a subsequent sentence in the same section uses "committed suicide".   - Mark D Worthen PsyD (talk) 04:42, 12 December 2017 (UTC)

I would add that for an American "committed suicide" does not imply a crime as it can for other countries. That's why it is acceptable here. --Masem (t) 06:18, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
Concur with Masem. --Coolcaesar (talk) 14:42, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
I also agree. Are you okay with occasional use of "died by suicide" as long as the standard phrase ("committed suicide") is in the lede and predominant in the article? I am mainly wanting to a) Perhaps arrive at a compromise since this issue comes up regularly; and 2) Avoid repetition of one phrase, although that is a minor concern.   - Mark D Worthen PsyD (talk) 01:16, 13 December 2017 (UTC)

The word 'commit' as a verb is used exclusively for crimes or immoral actions. I'd consider revising this — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:03, 12 February 2018 (UTC)

One commits to a relationship, a marriage, a goal. Without the 'to', one can commit funds, energy or time to a project. It's not always criminal or immoral.
My problem with "died by suicide" is that it's a parallel to "died by gunshot", "died by drowning", "died by asphyxiation", etc. Those are all specific causes of death, but suicide is a general term that can cover many specific causes. Just knowing that someone died by their own hand does not tell you how they did it, and not knowing the exact method is like knowing that someone died "of natural causes", i.e. it's almost no information at all. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 17:51, 12 February 2018 (UTC)
I don't like "died by suicide" at all. The objection to "commit" because it implies a crime is odd to me; that's just the terminology that's used. Prinsgezinde (talk) 01:13, 16 June 2018 (UTC)

We are an encyclopaedia. We live by facts, not by obfuscation. Anything but "committed suicide" is misleading. HiLo48 (talk) 01:16, 16 June 2018 (UTC)

I also feel "committed suicide" is best, as "died by suicide" reads awkwardly and is needlessly redundant when suicide already means somebody deliberately killing themself. "Commit" doesn't necessarily imply crime when (as noted above) one can also commit to something (i.e. committed to a goal, committed to a relationship). Snuggums (talk / edits) 15:27, 23 June 2018 (UTC)
+1 - Agree with Hilo & Snuggums - "Committed suicide" is by far the most known and probably well used, Like Snuggums says "died by suicide" just reads awkwardly. –Davey2010Talk 14:01, 27 July 2018 (UTC)

Changed to "died by suicide" in accordance with the AP style book. Also, too bad if you think it "sounds awkward" to say died by suicide rather than committed suicide. Using such terminology is harmful and irresponsible. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:50, 27 July 2018 (UTC)

Harmful and irresponsible? Please explain. HiLo48 (talk) 10:57, 27 July 2018 (UTC)

In my experience (primarily in the U.S.), "died by suicide" is not how people commonly write/speak about it, regardless of what the AP style book might say (recently?). Also, at the top of the Death section, why mention the preliminary report in the first 'graph and then the final report in the second? Surely, these can be combined with something like:

"Died by suicide" is generally preferred by those who have survived the death of someone by suicide. The verb commit does imply *fault* and discredits and dismisses mental illness. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:49, 24 September 2018 (UTC)

For whom are you speaking when you say "generally preferred by..."? Remember that this is a global encyclopaedia, and none of is in a position to speak for all of our readers. Sources supporting your claim would be useful here. HiLo48 (talk) 00:39, 25 September 2018 (UTC)

On August 11, 2014, Williams committed suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, California. The final autopsy report, released in November 2014, concluded that Williams' death was from "suicide due to asphyxia" (as suspected by the Marin County sheriff’s office on August 12), neither alcohol nor illegal drugs were involved, and prescription drugs present in his body were at "therapeutic" levels.
—[AlanM1(talk)]— 22:48, 12 August 2018 (UTC)

That's excellent. HiLo48 (talk) 01:00, 13 August 2018 (UTC)

Just to add to the debate - here are the reporting guidelines from The Samaritans, who are a UK-based mental health helpline and charity ( - they explicitly mention that "committed" is an inappropriate term, so here in the UK at the very least this language is potentially harmful. I would suggest that "took his own life" might be a good compromise? (Kimari91 (talk) 13:55, 10 October 2018 (UTC))

Do they say what it is about "committed" that makes it an inappropriate term, and potentially harmful? HiLo48 (talk) 07:48, 12 October 2018 (UTC)

Per our own dear Wikipedia from the Suicide article: “The normal verb in scholarly research and journalism for the act of suicide is commit.[28][29] Some advocacy groups recommend saying completed suicide, took his/her own life, died by suicide, or killed him/herself instead of committed suicide.[30][31][32][33] Opponents of commit argue that it implies that suicide is criminal, sinful, or morally wrong.[34]”

Using anything other than “died by suicide” is irresponsible and frankly, needlessly cruel. An alternat Vevto “committed suicide” exists, is preferred by those most affected by suicide, and is grammatically correct according to the AP style book. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:33, 17 October 2018 (UTC)

Yes as you pointed out ..The normal verb in scholarly research and journalism for the act of suicide is "commit"....Wikipedia is not a means for WP:Advocacy. --Moxy (talk) 05:41, 17 October 2018 (UTC)

As someone who has suffered from suicidal ideation saying “committed” suicide makes it sounds like a crime. I’m from the US and the word commit is usually for a crime. Like I deserve to be punished because of it. My brain is sick and it tricks me into thinking suicide is a good thing. He was sick not a criminal. Why do you need to know how he died by suicide? That’s not necessary information. Sammind (talk) 17:36, 9 March 2019 (UTC)

As someone who has also been deeply affected by suicide, committed is a horrible term to use in this situation. Suicidal Ideation in not a choice, it is an illness and dying by suicide is the result of that illness. The term committed implies a choice in this situation. No person "Commits brest cancer" or "Commits a heart attack" and in the eyes of someone who has dealt with suicide I see absolute no difference between suicide and these two examples. No, committed does not always refer to a crime, but it does refer to a choice, and suicide is NOT a choice. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:16, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

We mimic scholarly usage and use academic definition .....see bold text in the link Dr. Milorad Zastranovic -Psychiatry (2016). Tentament Suicide - Committed Suicide. Facharbeit. p. 11. ISBN 978-3-9804842-5-1.
Comment: You have a good point, but he did commit suicide, yes? And did he not die by commiting suicide? When he commited suicide, he died. So he did die from commiting suicide. He died by suicide, and he commited suicide. They are both valid statements.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:603:1200:6c47:d93c:9748:9261:afac (talkcontribs) 17:07, 6 June 2019 (UTC)

The current term used by mental health professionals is "completed suicide." We need to do away with the stigma associated with "commit." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:1C1:8A01:42A0:7DB3:99D3:C685:462F (talk) 08:35, 21 July 2019 (UTC)

Sorry that I made a correction before reading this page, this was my first ever edit and I didn't see the message at first, and also don't know how to delete my edit. Feel free to delete, but I still agree that it should be changed. Testa412 (talk) 20:52, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

I'm reading on here that because it "reads better" or "has been written" to read "committed suicide" rather than "died by suicide." That does not constitute a valid reason to ignore best practice and not allow it to be changed to "died by suicide." The language used when discussing death by suicide is actually pretty important for mental health and suicide prevention awareness and advocacy. We should be going with what is considered best practice. MDoodleBop (talk) 14:41, 23 September 2019 (UTC)

I'm reading on here that because it "reads better" or "has been written" to read "committed suicide" rather than "died by suicide." That does not constitute a valid reason to ignore best practice and not allow it to be changed to "died by suicide." The language used when discussing death by suicide is actually pretty important for mental health and suicide prevention awareness and advocacy. We should be going with what is considered best practice. MDoodleBop (talk) 14:41, 23 September 2019 (UTC)

I wholeheartedly agree. For professionals and ordinary people knowledgeable about the complexities of suicide, in 2019 "committed suicide" is regressive, and, in my opinion, an embarrassing expression of ignorance. Mrs. Peel (talk) 21:45, 24 October 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment I'm not particularly invested in the debate, but I would note that "committed" is used frequently in the news and in academic publications. See the recent discussion on WP here around the same thing for categories. the result was to keep the category "committed suicide". ThatMontrealIP (talk) 22:34, 24 October 2019 (UTC)

Infobox photoEdit

At this revision Surtsicna changed the infobox pic to that shown on the left, below. The previous image (in the middle) was here since 2017-03-01; that was only a different angle and better smile than this one, placed on 2014-02-12 (on the right). I may have missed other short-lived changes in between.

I prefer the middle one. —[AlanM1(talk)]— 08:23, 1 December 2018 (UTC)

I do not feel strongly about it. I thought it would be better to have a photograph of him from his peak years. If, however, either of the 2017 images is chosen, we should remove the one taken the same day that appears later in the article. Surtsicna (talk) 08:59, 1 December 2018 (UTC)
@Surtsicna: Looking at commons:Category:Robin Williams, I don't really see anything that jumps out at me as a perfect portrait pic like the one that was there. The others that are reasonably representative, it turns out, are already in the article  . I think the lower one with the Happy Feet character is different (and cute) enough to stay as well. Are there maybe any other sources of free pics that haven't made their way into Commons yet? —[AlanM1(talk)]— 12:23, 4 December 2018 (UTC)
While I do not mind using a different photo in the infobox than the one I inserted, I do think it is silly to have two photos of Williams taken on the same day, at the same event, in the same outfit. See MOS:IMAGERELEVANCE for more details. But yes, AlanM1, the internet is full of photographs that have the potential to become free. All you need to do is contact the copyright holder and ask her or him to release the photograph under a suitable license. I often send messages to FlickR users with this in mind. A photographer I recently encountered has happily released over a hundred high quality portraits. I suppose any site is okay as long as you can be certain who the author is and be able to contact him or her. Surtsicna (talk) 13:50, 4 December 2018 (UTC)
I looked at both Google and flickr for something suitable relevant to the film section or a better portrait for the infobox. Every one that I thought was at all interesting, we already have. Searching the non-free images would take some time, since you have to weed out all the non-starters (commercial news sources, etc.; right?), all the dups, etc.
Without putting too fine a point on it, I believe the previous infobox image is the best one we currently have. If you feel the lower image is duplicative, shouldn't that (less prominent) one be the one to be replaced? In the absence of consensus, shouldn't the photo that's been there for 21 months (only slightly different from the one that's been there nearly 5 years) remain? —[AlanM1(talk)]— 15:09, 4 December 2018 (UTC)

I've pinged WT:WikiProject Biography § Robin Williams pic for wider input. —[AlanM1(talk)]— 02:13, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

The middle one is the most agreeable picture. The bright, smiling expression better captures the essence of Williams than the neutral/slightly sleepy expression from 1996, especially for a person who is most widely know for comedy (people expect a glum, brooding Winston Churchill for instance, and should see a smiling Robin Williams). --Animalparty! (talk) 03:36, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Middle picture – my preferred choice. It has a smile, his face is looking at the camera, and I can’t remember ever seeing him with a gotee or facial hair. Corky 04:08, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

I've reverted back to the status quo (the middle pic) until we find something better. —[AlanM1(talk)]— 12:08, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

AddressEdit The address seems like too much detail, especially for the infobox, but I also don't see how it's encyclopedic, even in the body of the article. It doesn't seem to be routinely mentioned in on-topic sources (i.e. outside the real-estate records, background check sites, etc.). It's not in the Sky News article to which it's cited in the body (which has apparently moved), though a careful look at the pic suggests that the address is wrong, too. The discrepancy could be cleared up, but I don't think the residents need us to help invade their privacy any further, for no encyclopedic reason. (Pinging others who previously removed the info – @General Ization and User: via Talk) —[AlanM1(talk)]— 19:37, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

I concur. All it is likely to do is increase the number of uninvited visitors to his former home. General Ization Talk 19:39, 20 January 2019 (UTC)
I also agree and should be OS'd - FlightTime Phone (open channel) 19:40, 20 January 2019 (UTC)

  Done. Not sure if it qualifies for OS, since it's public info, but I removed it from the article. —[AlanM1(talk)]— 12:10, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 November 2019Edit

Please change mentions "committed suicide" to "died by suicide". Rachelberdan (talk) 15:24, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

  Not done. Multiple discussions at WT:MOS have shown no consensus for making this wholesale change. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 15:58, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
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