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Robin Williams hanged by belt in apparent suicide

, / 10:00 AM August 13, 2014

In this Nov. 15, 1997, file photo, Robin Williams extends his head between curtains in a New York hotel. Sheriff’s officials said comedian Robin Williams killed himself at his San Francisco-area home. AP PHOTO/JIM COOPER

SAN RAFAEL, California—Robin Williams killed himself by hanging at his San Francisco-area home, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.

Marin County Sheriff’s Lt. Keith Boyd said Williams was found in a bedroom by his personal assistant on Monday with a belt around his neck and slight wounds to his wrist. Boyd said toxicology tests will be performed and the investigation is ongoing.

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The Marin County Sheriff’s Office said suicide remains the apparent cause of death for the 63-year-old Oscar-winning actor, who had been grappling with severe depression.

“His life ended due to asphyxia due to hanging,” said Boyd, the county’s assistant coroner, as tributes to Williams–one of finest comedy talents of his generation–poured in from around the world.

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Williams, 63, was found Monday by his personal assistant “in a seated position unresponsive with a belt secured around his neck with the other end of the belt wedged between the clothes closet door and the door frame.

“Mr. Williams, at that time, was cool to the touch with rigor mortis present in his body,” Boyd told reporters, adding that the inside of Williams’ left wrist bore superficial cuts.

No word on suicide note  

Boyd refused to say whether a suicide note was found, but he disclosed that a pocket knife with signs of dried blood on its blade was being examined.

He also said the final cause of death would not be declared until toxicology tests are completed.

Williams had periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression.

Williams’ press representative Mara Buxbaum said the actor had been battling severe depression recently. Just last month, Williams announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program.

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Coroner’s officials say he was last seen alive at home around 10 p.m. Sunday by his wife, Susan Schneider, before she retired for the night, Boyd said.

She left the house on Monday assuming he was still asleep in a separate room in the house in the town of Tiburon, just north of San Francisco.

Williams was found dead by his personal assistant, who entered the room “when he failed to respond to knocks on his bedroom door,” Boyd said.

Shortly before noon Monday, the Sheriff’s Department received an emergency call from the home, where the star of “Good Will Hunting,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Good Morning, Vietnam” and dozens of other films was pronounced dead.

‘I want to rehab in wine country’ 

Williams made reference to his substance abuse and depression in his comedy routines, including when he sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse that followed 20 years of sobriety.

Williams joked: “I went to rehab in wine country to keep my options open.”

Likewise, when word spread about his struggles with drugs in the early 1980s, Williams responded with a joke that for a time became a catchphrase for his generation’s recreational drug use: “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you are making too much money.”

Word that he had killed himself left neighbors stunned and grief-stricken.

Noreen Nieder said Williams was a friendly neighbor who always said hello and engaged in small talk. Nieder said she felt comfortable enough to approach him and ask him about his latest stint in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

“He was very open about it,” Nieder said. “He told me he was doing well.”

Fans and friends placed bouquets, candles and personal notes in front of the locked gates of Williams’ house.

“I love you. I miss you. I’ll try to keep looking up,” Williams’ daughter Zelda said in an Instagram message that appeared alongside a quote from “The Little Prince” by French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

President Barack Obama led public tributes to an entertainer he described as “one of a kind,” while Hollywood titan Steven Spielberg hailed Williams, a close friend, as a “lightning storm of comic genius.”

Fans worldwide united in grief via social media, with #RobinWilliams trending on Twitter throughout the day.

Minatare shrines popped up at Williams star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, a park bench in Boston that featured in “Good Will Hunting” and the Victorian house in Colorado where his breakthrough 1970s space alien sitcom “Mork and Mindy” was recorded.

“He was a giant heart, a fireball friend, a wondrous gift from the gods,” said British actor, director and Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam. “Now the selfish bastards have taken him back.”

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Originally posted: August 13, 2014 | 2:49 am

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TAGS: Celebrities, Entertainment, Film, robin williams, Suicide, US
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