Williams' suicide Monday refocused public attention on depression, its sometimes link to substance abuse and, in tragic cases, suicide.
He was last seen alive at his suburban San Francisco home about 10 p.m. Sunday, according to the Marin County coroner's office. Shortly before noon on Monday, the Sheriff's Department received an emergency call from the home, where he was soon pronounced dead. Sheriff's officials said Tuesday that Williams committed suicide by hanging himself, according to the Associated Press.
Williams, who was 63, had struggled for decades with substance abuse and depression, and routinely made references to those personal battles in his comedy routines.
"Cocaine is God's way of telling you you are making too much money," he would quip.
Williams had been dealing with severe depression recently, said his publicist. Early last month, he had checked himself into a rehab facility for substance abuse, according to published reports. His publicist told People magazine at the time that "after working back-to-back projects, Robin is simply taking the opportunity to fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment [to sobriety], of which he remains extremely proud."
In 2006, he had sought treatment for alcohol addiction at the Hazelden center in Springbrook, Ore., according to published reports.
Despite Williams' well-documented personal battles, mental health experts point to major strides in recent decades in the treatment of people who struggle with depression and substance abuse, which are often twin afflictions.
The most effective treatments are medication and talk therapy, said Dr. Jeff Borenstein, president and CEO of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation in New York City. This dual approach works for most people who are dealing with depression, he said.
"It's extremely difficult to live with dep
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