Update: Robin Williams had early Parkinson’s, wife says
(CNN) — Robin Williams was sober, but was struggling with depression, anxiety and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease when he died, his widow said Thursday.
Williams was found dead in his Northern California home Monday from what investigators suspect was a suicide by hanging.
While fans and friends have looked for answers to why the 63-year-old comedy icon would take his own life, his wife, Susan Schneider, issued a written statement that could shed some light.
“Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched,” Schneider said. “His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.”
“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.”
“It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”
Williams had been active as an actor in the last year of his life, performing in a CBS sitcom that was canceled earlier this year and acting in four films that have yet to hit theaters.
He spent time in a treatment facility in July, a time when his wife and representative have said he was battling depression.
Media reports at the time speculated that Williams had resumed drinking alcohol, but the statement from his wife appears to dispute those reports.
Williams entered rehab because of drug and alcohol addiction at least twice previously.
Parkinson’s disease “causes certain brain cells to die,” according to a description on the website of the National Institutes of Health. It is more likely to affect men than women and most often develops after age 50, the NIH said.
“During this initial phase of the disease, a patient usually experiences mild symptoms,” according to the National Parkinson Foundation. “These symptoms may inconvenience the day-to-day tasks the patient would otherwise complete with ease. Typically these symptoms will include the presence of tremors or experiencing shaking in one of the limbs.”
Investigators believe Williams used a belt to hang himself from a bedroom door sometime between late Sunday and when his personal assistant found him just before noon Monday, according to Marin County Assistant Deputy Chief Coroner Lt. Keith Boyd.
Boyd would not confirm or deny whether Williams left behind a letter, saying that investigators would discuss “the note or a note” later.
The coroner’s investigation “revealed he had been seeking treatment for depression,” Boyd told reporters.