STRUGGLING with depression, Robin Williams was found dead by his personal assistant after knocks on the door of his bedroom went unanswered.
His wife likely was at their San Francisco home at the time but was unaware of his death, Marin County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Keith Boyd said.
Williams was last seen alive by his wife on Sunday night when she went to bed, Lt Boyd said. She woke up the next morning and left, thinking he was still asleep elsewhere in the house.
Shortly after that, Williams’ personal assistant came to the Tiburon home and became concerned when Williams failed to respond to knocks at a door. The assistant found the 63-year-old actor clothed and dead in a bedroom.
Lt Boyd said all evidence indicates Williams, star of Good Will Hunting, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning, Vietnam and dozens of other films, committed suicide by hanging himself.
But he said a final ruling will be made once toxicology reports and interviews with witnesses are complete.
Williams had apparently been dead for at least a few hours, Lt Boyd said.
The actor had been seeking treatment for depression, Lt Boyd said. He would not say whether Williams left a suicide note.
“We still have people we want to speak with so there is some information we’re going to withhold,’’ Lt Boyd said. “We’re not discussing the note or a note at this point as the investigation is ongoing.’’
The Oscar-winning actor for years dealt with bouts of substance abuse and depression and referenced his struggles in his comedy routines. Just last month, Williams announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program.
The circumstances of the death do not help explain what motivated him, suicide experts said. Understanding that would require a detailed “psychological autopsy’’ that includes the review of medical and other records, and interviews with family and friends.
These experts stressed that suicide rarely is triggered by a single factor, such as depression or substance abuse. Typically there are at least two such influences, often compounded by acute stress, such as from financial hardship or troubled personal relationships.
“We know from decades of research that there are numerous factors that contribute to suicide risk,’’ said Michelle Cornette, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology.
Word that the actor had killed himself left neighbours in the quiet, waterfront neighbourhood of Tiburon stunned and sparked an outpouring of grief and praise from his family and Hollywood colleagues.
“Yesterday, I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little greyer,’’ his son Zak Williams said in a statement. “I will carry his heart with me every day. I would ask those that loved him to remember him by being as gentle, kind, and generous as he would be. Seek to bring joy to the world as he sought.’’
Makeshift memorials of flowers and notes popped up around the country including on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at his home and outside the house where the ‘80s sitcom Mork & Mindy was set in Boulder, Colorado. People also gathered to remember Williams at a bench in Boston’s Public Garden where he filmed a scene for Good Will Hunting.
Ben Affleck, a co-star and co-writer on that movie, was among the legions of friends and fans who shared tributes online.
“Robin had a ton of love & did so much for so many,’’ Affleck tweeted. ``He made Matt & my dreams come true. What do you owe a guy who does that? Everything.’’
Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais wrote: ``I am deeply saddened. He was a lovely man who would keep everyone laughing even if he wasn’t feeling good himself.’’