Police have released graphic details of actor-comedian Robin Williams' death, saying the he took his own life after his wife went to bed for the night.

Speaking from prepared notes, Marin Sheriff's Lt. Keith Boyd said that Williams's wife, Susan Schneider, went to bed at 10:30pm on Sunday.

Williams later retired in a different bedroom of their home in Tiburon, California, a small town in the San Francisco Bay area.

Lt. Keith Boyd, assistant chief deputy coroner for the Marin County Sheriff's Office, at podium, speaks at a packed news conference about the death of Robin Williams in San Rafael, California. Photo: AP.

In the morning, Schneider left the home, thinking Williams was still sleeping. His assistant later came to the house and, concerned about the actor, went into the bedroom and discovered his body at about 11:45am.

He was pronounced dead at 12:02pm on Monday.

Police said Williams tried twice to take his life that night.


Sheriff Boyd revealed detailed information on the cause of death and the manner in which Williams was found. The West Australian has chosen not to report these details.

Sheriff Boyd would not confirm whether a note was left behind nor would he reveal whether it was Williams's first suicide attempt. He did state that Williams was being treated for depression and authorities had not been called to the home for previous incidents.

News of the beloved actor's suicide spread quickly on Tuesday, but the details were sketchy. Officials said the actor was last seen alive at about 10pm on Sunday. An emergency call from his home was placed just before noon on Monday. He was discovered unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene from what the sheriff's department described as apparent suicide.

The Napa County Coroner's Office conducted an autopsy but an official cause of death isn't expected for several weeks pending the results of toxicology tests.

His third wife, Schneider, whom he married in 2011, issued the following statement: "This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions."

His daughter Zelda, 25, posted an emotional tribute on Twitter, declaring, "I love you. I miss you."

Williams, who has been candid about his struggles with alcohol and cocaine], went to rehab in June — just after his TV series The Crazy Ones was cancelled. At the time his rep said, "He has been working hard and now has a break in his schedule, so wants to come back and be the best that he can be. This is his version of a retreat."

Robin Williams with his wife, Susan Schneider and daughter, Zelda Williams. Photo: AP.

His addictions were linked to the depression he suffered for much of his life. In a 2010 interview with the UK's Guardian, he said that while working on the film Insomnia in Alaska in 2003, he felt "alone and afraid" and that led to him drinking as a way to cope and hurting his relationship with his family.

"I was shameful, did stuff that caused disgust — that's hard to recover from," he said.

He spoke more in depth about his depression during a 2006 interview with NPR, saying that while he hadn't been diagnosed with clinical depression or bipolar disorder, "I get bummed, like I think a lot of us do at certain times. You look at the world and go, 'Whoa.' Other moments you look and go, 'Oh, things are OK.'"

Tributes have flowed and fans have flocked to places he was associated with to remember him. Makeshift memorials were set up outside the Mork & Mindy house in Boulder, Colorado, on the stairs of the Mrs. Doubtfire house in San Francisco, and on a bench in Boston Public Garden where he filmed a pivotal scene from Good Will Hunting.

Not all the attention has been positive. Fox News's Shepard Smith was in backtrack mode just hours after referring to Williams as "a coward" for taking his life. Speaking to Mediate, Smith said, "To the core of my being, I regret it. It just came out of my mouth. And I'm so sorry. And to anyone and their families who see that, I am sorry."

Smith was not alone in facing outrage from fans. Former Diff'rent Strokes star Todd Bridges removed a Twitter post that called Williams's suicide "a very selfish act" and replaced it with a series of mea culpas.

"I apologise for my negative comment, and I ask forgiveness for any pain that I have caused anyone," tweeted Bridges, explaining he was still reeling from a friend's suicide.

Earlier, ABC News issued an apology for coverage many deemed intrusive. The network showed aerial views of William's gated home, where he killed himself, and touted the footage with a special red banner at the top of its homepage: "Watch Live: Aerial Views of Robin Williams' Home." The social media backlash was instantaneous from fans who deemed it an invasion of his family's privacy in light of his wife's public plea.

"When we realised there was no news value to the live stream, we took it down immediately," ABC News said in a statement.

"Our intention was not to be insensitive to his family, friends and fans, and for that we apologise."

*Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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