Beyond Heroes and Villains

Investigating the nature of good guys and bad guys in fiction and real life

Police Suspect Suicide in Death of Comedian Robin Williams

Robin Williams, who rose to fame as an alien outsider, dies in apparent suicide.

Marin County, California, police report that Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams, 63, had died in a suspected suicide. Their statement:

On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 a.m, Marin County Communications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in unincorporated Tiburon, CA. The Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnel arriving on scene at 12:00 pm. The male subject, pronounced deceased at 12:02 pm has been identified as Robin McLaurin Williams, a 63-year-old resident of unincorporated Tiburon, CA.

An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Division s of the Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he resides with his wife, at approximately 10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. Mr. Williams was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed to Marin County Communications. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made. A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.

Williams, who has suffered from bouts of depression and drug abuse throughout his life, had recently entered a treatment program again. His publicist, Mara Buxbaum told The Hollywood Reporter, “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Once upon a time, Robin Williams rose to fame as star of the Happy Days spinoff Mork & Mindy (1978-1982), a situation comedy that suited his improvisational style and always ended with Mork's observations about life on Earth. The fish-out-of-water humor provided wild comedic moments and, interestingly enough, lessons on coping as an outsider or oddball. Fans of science fiction and anyone who ever felt out of place on this planet could sympathize and maybe consider how better to wend their way through the world.  After several decades in motion pictures, including his Oscar-winning turn as Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting, Williams recently returned to television co-starring with Sarah Michelle Gellar in The Crazy Ones, which CBS cancelled after only one season. 

Fellow actor and comedian Steve Martin, who rose to fame for wacky comedy right before Williams, tweeted, "I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul."

Most of us do not yet know why the police consider it an apparent suicide, nor do we know enough details to speculate beyond what we already know about this actor's history. For now, we do not need to know these things. We can sympathize with his friends and family, we can feel for him and hope he is finally at peace, and we can mourn the loss for whatever he meant to each of us. To some, he was simply a funny man. To others, he meant a great deal more and he will be missed. It's too easy to say he lost his battle. Apparently he did, true, but it's worth remembering how long he stayed in that battle and appreciating all the days when he won it.

"You feel warm and kind of wonderful. And then the next thing you know, it’s a problem, and you’re isolated." - Robin Williams 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
1-800-273-TALK (8255), any time day or night.

Robin Williams in The Night Listener.
 


Robin Williams voiced the genie in Disney's Aladdin.

The White House released a statement by President Obama: 
“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.”

Travis Langley, Ph.D. is the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight.

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