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Robin Williams' Widow Says Dementia Not Depression Led To His Suicide

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In August 2014, the world mourned the death of Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams.

The 63-year-old was found unconscious in his home in Marin County, Calif.

Marin County police suspected [pdf] the death to be "suicide to asphyxia" while Williams' publicist, Danielle Nussbaum, confirmed that the actor had been "battling severe depression of late."

The Internet erupted with grief at the loss of the actor, who starred in well-loved movies such as "Good Will Hunting," "Dead Poets Society" and (the voice of Genie in) "Aladdin."

To date, fans still ache over the absence of Williams, particularly at the fact that the comedian's death was, as reported, closely (and ironically) associated with depression.

However, for the first time since the tragic event, Williams' wife of four years, now widow, Susan Williams opened up about her husband's passing away, revealing details that seek to uncover the real cause of his death.

"It was not depression that killed Robin," Susan shared in an exclusive interview, referring to the widespread belief as regards why he committed suicide.

Williams was diagnosed with Diffuse Lewy Body Dementia or Dementia with Lewy bodies (LBD), said Susan, the struggle against which eventually drove him to end his life.

"Depression was one of let's call it 50 symptoms and it was a small one," she added.

An estimated 1.4 million Americans are affected by LBD. Because its symptoms are so similar to other illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, LBD often remains underdiagnosed.

LBD is a disease that involves fluctuations in cognition, hallucinations, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder and sensitivity to neuroleptic (anti-psychotic) drugs as symptoms, says the Lewy Body Dementia Association.

LBD symptoms began to take their toll on Williams in 2013.

"They present themselves like a pinball machine. You don't know exactly what you're looking at," said Susan.

Williams experienced anxiety attacks, but still his team of doctors could not determine the exact problem, until the autopsy.

"I know now the doctors, the whole team was doing exactly the right things. It's just that this disease was faster than us and bigger than us. We would have gotten there eventually."

The symptoms then became more and more severe, leading up to his death.

Susan hopes that her husband's story would help others in the same plight. She added that even though her husband knew he was "losing his mind," there was nothing he could do about the situation.

"I pray to God that it will shed some light on Lewy bodies for the millions of people and their loved ones who are suffering with it. Because we didn't know. He didn't know."

Photo: Eva Rinaldi | Flickr 

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