Oscar-winning actor and groundbreaking comedian Robin Williams hanged himself with a belt in his Northern California home after he had sought treatment for depression, a coroner said on Tuesday based on preliminary findings.
Williams, 63, was found dead by his personal assistant at midday on Monday in a bedroom. He was suspended from a belt wedged between a closet door and a door frame, in a seated position just off the ground, Marin County’s assistant chief deputy coroner, Keith Boyd, told a news conference.
“Mr. Williams’ personal assistant became concerned at approximately 11:45 a.m. when he failed to respond to knocks on his bedroom door,” said Boyd.
“His right shoulder area was touching the door with his body perpendicular to the door and slightly suspended. Mr. Williams at that time was cool to the touch with rigor mortis present in his body,” Boyd added.
The official preliminary cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging, he said, and conclusion of the investigation is still weeks away.
Officials also found a pocket knife near Williams and superficial cuts on his left wrist with dried red material that matched what was on the knife blade. It was not yet known if it was his blood.
Williams had been open about his struggles with alcohol and cocaine and in the past months had entered a rehabilitation center to help him maintain sobriety. But many questions remained over what could have led him to take his own life.
Williams’ publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said on Monday that he had been suffering from severe depression, and Boyd acknowledged that he had been seeking treatment without giving more details.
His tragic end stood in stark contrast to the many on-screen characters he portrayed who encouraged those around them to tap into their own inner vitality, a wellspring of creativity to which he himself gave full vent in films such as “Good Morning, Vietnam” and “Dead Poets Society.”
Williams was last seen alive by his wife, Susan Schneider, on Sunday night when she retired for the evening. She left the next morning around 10 a.m., thinking that her husband was still asleep.
Boyd would not say whether Williams had left a suicide note, nor if any drugs or alcohol were involved. The full toxicology report would take two to six weeks, he said.
In addition to his wife, Williams is survived by three grown children – daughter Zelda, and sons Cody and Zachary. Funeral arrangements are pending and his body has been released by the coroner facility in neighboring Napa County. (Reuters)