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Robin Williams Dead from Apparent Suicide

It’s a sad day for fans of the incredibly talented actor and comedian, Robin Williams. Around noon on Monday, a 9-1-1 call was placed from the 63-year-old actor’s home in Tiburon, CA. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office, Tiburon Fire Department, and Southern Marin Fire Protection District all dispatched emergency personnel, with units arriving at the Williams’ home approximately five minutes after receiving the call for help. Once inside, responders were shocked to find Williams unresponsive, dead from an apparent suicide.

A statement from the Marin County Sheriff Coroner’s division lists Robin McLaurin Williams’ death as “suspected suicide by asphyxiation.” However, as customary in cases of suspected suicide, an investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway.

Williams lived with his wife, Susan Schneider. The two had wed in Napa Valley on October 23, 2011. In a public statement, Schneider said, “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.”

We don’t yet know if Schneider is the one who discovered her husband’s body; official reports say only that he was found “by family.”

Need help? If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Loss of a Legend

To say that Williams is an icon would be a gross understatement. Best known for his roles in hilarious comedies like Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning, Vietnam, The Birdcage, and Jumanji, the energetic actor elicited laughs like no other. But make no mistake; Robin Williams wasn’t a one-trick comedic pony.

Williams effortlessly morphed into deeply emotional roles, assuming dramatic characters that commanded equally powerful responses from audiences. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting and lent his special brand of humanity to dramas like the Dead Poets Society. Perhaps more poignantly, Williams’ role in a 1998 flick entitled What Dreams May Come dealt with suicide, the possibility that love can reach beyond the grip of death, and the beauty of reincarnation.

Ongoing Battles with Addiction and Depression

Robin Williams made no bones about his battles with alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression. He spoke openly about his abuse and addiction to cocaine and alcohol in the early ’80s. He later became a champion of recovery, speaking with great passion about the treatment programs that saved his life, allowing him to enjoy an amazing 20 years of sobriety.

In 2006, however, Williams suffered an alcohol relapse and immediately checked himself into a treatment facility. Shortly after completing the program, he told Good Morning America that the chronic disease of addiction is “not caused by anything, it’s just there,” he said. “It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK.”

Earlier this year, Williams surprised the public by checking himself into the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center’s continued sobriety program. The actor’s publicist explained Williams wanted to focus on his sobriety, stating that, “After working back-to-back projects, Robin is simply taking the opportunity to fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment, of which he remains extremely proud.”

Related: The Cultural Delusion We Are Conquering Mental Illness

A Nation Mourns

In his last post to Instagram, Williams paid tribute to his young daughter, Zelda, on her birthday. The post read: “Happy Birthday to Ms. Zelda Rae Williams! Quarter of a century old today but always my baby girl. Happy Birthday @zeldawilliams Love you!”

Along with thousands of fans, celebrities, comics, and even President Obama have taken to Twitter to express condolences and deep sorrow over the loss of this magnetic and beloved actor. Here’s a look at some of those heartfelt messages:

  • Kevin Spacey led the Hollywood tributes to Robin Williams following news of his tragic death. In an emotional Twitter post, Spacey said: “Robin Williams made the world laugh & think. I will remember & honor that. A great man, artist and friend. I will miss him beyond measure.”
  • Steve Martin Tweeted: “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”
  • Ellen DeGeneres Tweets: “I can’t believe the news about Robin Williams. He gave so much to so many people. I’m heartbroken.”
  • Chelsea Handler, who often praises Williams for his comedic genius, summed things up perfectly, Tweeting: “RIP Robin Williams – a true friend to comedy. If you or a friend need help, reach out, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.”
  • President Obama also released a statement, highlighting the important laughs and tears Robin Williams so graciously provided us during his short 63-year life. It reads: “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.”

Help is Here: If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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