Did Robin Williams Show Signs of Depression?

By Shawn Dwyer 08/14/14

According to the Los Angeles Times, the actor's friends saw him slowly slipping away due to mounting pressures and declining health.

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From the moment that the world learned about Robin Williams committing suicide, stories emerged almost immediately about his battles with depression and decades-long fight with substance abuse. But according to a report from the Los Angeles Times, Williams slipped deeper into the abyss in recent years following open heart surgery in 2009, mounting bills due to his divorce settlements, and the cancellation of his CBS sitcom, The Crazy Ones, this past May.

"He started to disconnect," said longtime friend and comedian Rick Overton. "He wasn't returning calls as much. He would send texts and things like that, but they would get shorter and shorter."

On Aug. 11, 2014, Williams was found dead by his personal assistant hanging by a belt attached to a closet door. He also had superficial cuts on his wrists, presumably made by a bloodied pocketknife found near his body.

Just a month before his death, Williams had checked into the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesota to "fine-tune" his sobriety, which proved to be fragile after the cancellation of The Crazy Ones. The show marked the comedian's return to television after the mega-success of Mork & Mindy decades earlier, but failed to catch on with viewers and was cancelled by CBS.

"He took the cancellation of the show hard," Overton said. "It would hit any of us hard...the one-two punch of that can make all the difference in the world. He got real quiet."

Prior to the show's demise, Williams was already diminished as a box office draw. He no longer commanded the big paydays like he did in the 1980s and 1990s, leaving him consigned to smaller indie films or supporting roles in blockbusters like Night at the Museum. The change in star status—coupled with mounting financial pressures from two divorces—appeared to have a deeper effect on him than anyone could imagine.

"You could just tell something was off," said friend Steven Pearl, who saw Williams in San Francisco just weeks before his death. "He seemed detached. It's hard to explain. He didn't seem like his usual self...I didn't know it would get this dark."

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.