Williams’ Death Shines Light on Depression, Suicide

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Comedian Robin Williams attends The Comedy Awards 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 28, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Comedian Robin Williams attends The Comedy Awards 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 28, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — The death of Robin Williams is just more proof of how powerful mental illness can be, health professionals say.

The sheriff’s office in Marin County, California, said the preliminary investigation shows the comedian’s cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.

Williams had been battling severe depression recently, according to his press representative Mara Buxbaum. And, just last month, he announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program he said he needed after 18 months of nonstop work. He had sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse following 20 years of sobriety.

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Still, his apparent suicide shocked Hollywood and Williams’ fans when it was announced Monday night.

“If you’re sad, please tell someone,” Jimmy Kimmel wrote on Twitter.

“Robin and I were great friends, suffering from the same little-known disease: depression,” wrote comedian Chevy Chase in a statement. “I never could have expected this ending to his life, and to ours with him.”

“No one is immune from feeling suicidal or attempting suicide or dying by suicide,” says Nadine Kaslow, President of the American Psychological Association. A history of drug and alcohol abuse are risk factors.

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But, she adds, “there are so many things that we can do if we’re concerned about a loved one…First and foremost, we need to talk with them about our concerns… let me know we care about them, we love them, and that we can help them get help and we encourage them to get help.”

More people die in the U.S. from suicide, 100 plus per day, than from homicide or even automobile accidents. Most are men.

WNEW’s John Domen contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

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