Marin County Sheriff

Robin Williams Hanged Himself With Belt: Sheriff

Robin Williams killed himself by hanging himself with a belt, the Marin County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday, as it announced the results of a preliminary investigation into the beloved actor's suicide.

Williams' personal assistant found him with a belt around his neck Monday in a chair near a closet door in his Tiburon home around 11:45 a.m., Lt. Keith Boyd told a bank of reporters Tuesday.

WARNING: The contents of this video may disturb some viewers. Investigators held an update following the death of Robin Williams. Preliminary cause of death: asphyxiation caused by hanging.

The iconic actor and comedian had "been seeking treatment for depression," Boyd said, confirming what Williams' publicist had said Monday. Boyd declined to say more, citing federal privacy laws.

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Boyd stressed the findings by Marin County Chief Forensic Pathologist Joseph Cohen were preliminary, and he would not discuss whether the 63-year-old had left behind a message for anyone.

"We are not discussing the note, or a note, at this time," Boyd said.

Boyd also did not know if Williams had taken any drugs or consumed alcohol before he committed "suicide by asphyxia." That information will not be available until a toxicology report is returned.

Boyd recounted a brief timeline of events that led to the shocking discovery.

Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, last saw her husband Sunday at about 10:30 p.m. She retired to one room to go to sleep, and her husband went into another, Boyd said. That was the last time anyone saw him alive. [[270824971, R]]

It wasn't until the next morning at 11:45 a.m. that Williams' personal assistant knocked on a bedroom door. There was no response, Boyd said. When the assistant went in, Williams' body was seated in a chair and "cool to the touch."  The "distraught" assistant called 911 at 11:55 a.m., Boyd said.

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Boyd said it's unknown at this point exactly what time Williams killed himself, but the actor was pronounced dead on Monday at 12:02 p.m. when firefighters arrived.

The Marin County Sheriff's office received some negative feedback from Internet users who thought the department's divulgence of graphic details was unnecessary. Lt. Boyd declined to comment on the department's decision when contacted by NBC Bay Area.

"We will address this in any future press conference we conduct," Boyd said in an email.

Williams was open about his persistent battles with substance abuse, as he often made light of his cocaine use during his 1980s standup routines and discussed his alcoholism openly.

Williams returned to rehab last month. He said he had not relapsed, but was working on maintaining his sobriety.

SUICIDE PREVENTION: If you know someone who needs help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

NBC Bay Area’s Terry McSweeney reports on the illness that may have led to Robin Williams’ death, and why the sense of loss for the public is different this time.
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