Fox News host Shepard Smith on Tuesday asserted that actor Robin Williams was “such a coward” for allegedly committing suicide.
At the conclusion of a touching special report that aired just hours after Williams died, Smith seemed to become almost angry while thinking about the actor’s children.
The Fox News host noted that Williams had once told a story about his daughter, Zelda, who asked him to read a book to her in his normal voice.
“One of the children he so loved, one of the children grieving tonight,” Smith said. “Because their father killed himself in a fit of depression.”
“It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?” he continued. “You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they’re in their mid-20s, and they’re inspiring you, and exciting you, and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known.”
“And yet, something inside you is so horrible or you’re such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.”
In his book “Myths About Suicide,” Psychologist Thomas Joiner deconstructs the myth that suicide is cowardly or selfish.
“It certainly seems selfish from the outside,” Joiner told NPR in 2010. “I understand the sentiment. But the trouble is, in trying to reason about the suicidal mind from a non-suicidal place – that’s basically where most of these myths come from.”
“What the suicidal person is thinking at the time is actually quite different from selfishness. Their idea is along the lines of, my death will be worth more than my life to others,” he explained. “Now, if you ponder that sentiment, that’s not selfish at all. In fact, if anything it’s the opposite. It’s very selfless.”
Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 if you or someone you know is suffering. Operators are available 24/7.
Update (12:40 p.m. ET): In a statement to Mediaite, Smith clarified and apologized his remarks about Williams.
“I spent an entire hour talking about how much this man affected people’s lives and brought greatness to this world,” the Fox News host said during a phone interview. “I was just wondering aloud what could have made this man want to end it all. And it reminds us that we all have responsibility as friends and neighbors to help take responsibility to prevent this from happening.”
The statement continued:
I was sorry to read online the people who see the world in a black-and-white way, and to suggest that they might have a definitive analysis of why he did such a thing. What I wanted to do is celebrate his life and find some meaning in our own lives, since we often do know someone who is reaching out, and we have a responsibility to help that person — maybe a phone call or a door knock is in order.
But no matter how you process it: Look at what this family is going through. I would never presume to know anything about his private life. And if any of his family members and friends were to have seen me use the word “coward,” I would be horrified. I would just to apologize to the end of the earth to anyone who might think that I meant to openly call him a coward.
To the core of my being, I regret it. It just came out of my mouth. And I’m so sorry. And to anyone and their families who see that, I am sorry.
Watch the video below from Fox News, broadcast Aug. 11, 2014.