Robin Williams was reportedly suffering from Lewy body dementia at the time of his death and it likely played a role in him taking his life.
The Mayo Clinic says “Lewy body dementia is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with Lewy body dementia may have hallucinations—which may appear in the form of animals, objects or deceased people from their past. Conversations with the aforementioned may occur.”
According to a report from TMZ, patients suffering from Parkinson’s often have Lewy body dementia, too. And those suffering from both diseases often suffer adverse reactions to some Parkinson’s medication.
Robin Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, told authorities following her husband’s death that he complained about how the Parkinson’s meds made him feel in the days leading up to his suicide. Now she and her family agree–as do Robin Williams’ doctors–that Lewy body dementia played a strong role in the actor’s passing.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 11, 2014
Last Friday, autopsy reports divulged there were neither illegal drugs nor alcohol in Williams’ system at the time of his death. The only drugs found were those prescribed by his doctors.
Robin Williams died by hanging in his home in northern California on August 11th. He was 63 years old.
Do you suppose the knowledge that a medical reason likely contributed to Williams’ death will in any way lighten his family’s load? While it was known the actor and comedian was depressed in the weeks leading up to his death, the presence of Lewy body dementia might indicate he had little to no control over his actions. While this finding won’t make their loss any easier, it might lessen some of the feelings of abandonment and anger that some survivors of suicide experience.