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In the wake of actor Robin Williams' death, Michael Savage's assertion that suicide is an "aggressive act" that shows no consideration for loved ones left behind has prompted criticism, but a caller to his show Wednesday said the radio host's frank talk about the subject helped him decide not to take his own life.
A caller who identified himself as Joe told Savage he had been contemplating suicide for the past several months, especially in the past week.
Joe said that when he learned of Williams' suicide, he asked himself, "If a guy like that could, why not me?"
But on his show Tuesday, Savage, who disclosed he and Williams lived in the same San Francisco-area neighborhood, urged any listeners who might be considering suicide to think about how it would affect their loved ones.
Joe was tuned in.
"Your show yesterday – I'm not going to say prevented me – but it did make me think about my kids and my wife," the caller said.
Savage said he met Williams many times when the two were walking their dogs.
"Our dogs knew each other quite well," he said on his show Tuesday. "We never talked politics, because we were at opposite ends of the spectrum."
Savage described Williams as "a nice guy, and genuinely funny, too."
But he told his listeners: "Let's stop turning him into a saint."
"Committing suicide is the most outrageously aggressive and selfish act you can commit against your family," Savage declared
On the show Wednesday, Joe confirmed that Williams' suicide, reported Monday, could prompt copycats.
But he said that in the midst of his darkness, he thought of his children.
Savage affirmed Joe's concern for how suicide would affect his family.
"Imagine what their lives would be going forward if their father was found dead with a gunshot to his head," Savage said.
Joe, whose emotions surfaced during the conversation, replied: "My son would be devastated."
Savage continued: "I want you to imagine what they would see on the floor as the coroner comes with a body bag. Can you envision that?"
Joe recounted listening to the show Tuesday.
"When you said that yesterday, I envisioned that. And then I thought about it, and I'm like, 'Oh my God,' it's an ugly scene."
After Savage discovered Joe was suffering financially, he asked his audience to join in helping Joe get through the rest of the month by donating through the Savage Legal Defense Fund.
Savage noted the Marin County Sheriff's Department was criticized for presenting graphic details of Williams' suicide to the public.
In sharp contrast, Savage praised the officials for giving "a real honest account of what happened," arguing the truth could help persuade some people to not give up.
"You ought to be mad at Robin Williams, not the sheriff's department," he told critics.