Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams. —Barack Obama

In shocking, sad news, actor and comedian Robin Williams has died in an apparent suicide. A Robin Williams spokesperson stated that the actor was recently battling severe depression.

The press release issued by the Marin County Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division:

On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 a.m., Marin County Communications received a 911 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in unincorporated Tiburon, Calif.

The Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnel arriving on scene at 12:00 pm. The male subject, pronounced deceased at 12:02 p.m. has been identified as Robin McLaurin Williams, a 63 year old resident of unincorporated Tiburon, Calif.

An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently
underway by the Investigations and Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he resides with his wife, at approximately 10 p.m. on August 10, 2014.

Mr. Williams was located this morning shortly before the 911 call was placed to Marin County Communications. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made. A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.

Williams, in his career, had earned five Grammys for his comedy albums, four Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Emmys, and an Academy Award. The Oscar was for Best Supporting Actor in 1997’s Good Will Hunting. Williams played the pivotal role of Dr. Sean Maguire, therapist and de facto father figure to the titular Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon). It was one of those perfect performances where the stars dramatically aligned.

By all accounts, the man was a force. He had a unique and original personality that was unrivaled. A pop cultural icon, he was a hall-of-fame comedian and Hollywood legend. In the movies, he had grossed more than $3 billion in his lifetime.

Take a look at his Wikipedia or his IMDb page. It is littered with a pantheon of memorable works in film and television. There are such critically-lauded films such as Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), and the previously mentioned Good Will Hunting (1997). There is the wave of commercial hits: Popeye (1980), Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Night at the Museum (2006), and Happy Feet (2006). Mork from Ork had range.

As a stand-up comedian he influenced thousands of comics. His early comedy tours, An Evening With Robin Williams (1982) and Robin Williams: At The Met (1986), are considered classics by the comedy community.

He was a philanthropist. Remember Comic Relief? He was a crucial part of that particular fundraising effort. There’s his very own Windfall Foundation. He supported St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Red Cross. Then there are his numerous stints on the USO Tour performing for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The world has not only lost a talented actor, a one-of-a-kind comic, an improv genius, and a giant pop icon, but also –a seemingly sweet and charitable man. If you log into social media and surf the blogosphere you’ll see it’s currently flooded with remembrances, tributes and homages to him. He was beloved by his brothers and sisters in the industry and by his legions of fans around the world.

It felt like a gut punch when we heard the news today. Fairly devastating, really. The nausea was preceded by a numbness and disbelief. After seeing the first blip about it on Facebook, we, probably like so many, hurriedly Google’d this alleged event. We asked ourselves, “What? Is this another cruel hoax?” Then the denial subsided to a malaise as we found out the cause of death was not medical, by overdose, or by accident, but by suicide. It’s jarring, being reminded of our mortality in that fashion. To be yanked out of our daydream or superficial, trivial reality, at the very moment, and exposed to this reminder of pain, darkness that can befall us all. It reminded us of Kurt Cobain when we were in high school. But unlike Kurt, who was somewhat of a morose character, Robin Williams oozed vitality –façade or not. We all heard he had his demons, he bounced in and out of rehab and whatnot. But we doubt anyone could have predicted this kind of outcome for him. It is surreal and all so messy. Depression is a real thing.

There exists this debate on whether one has to suffer to be a great artist. I believe you DO have to suffer to produce worthwhile art. I have always said, “Show me a person who hasn’t had their heart broken and I will show you a boring person.” What made Robin Williams so special was the humanity he brought to his comedy and his acting. It was a gift and a curse. The intellect, humility, perceptiveness, empathy and the breadth of sensitivity he possessed, in the end, is what doomed him. Just tragic.

As the air conditioner hums in our room, on a warm and humid, August evening…we can only shake our head and furl our brows as we write these words in silence.

People pass every day. Brilliant people die. People we love succumb. The conflict in the Middle East rages on. But this one hits home a little more as we thought this soulful hero was just invincible. C’mon, it’s a sad day. We can feel it.

Robin Williams is survived by his third wife Susan Schneider, his first son Zachary, his daughter Zelda, and his youngest child Cody.

We can only offer our thoughts and condolences to his family, his close friends and his millions of fans out there.

He is already greatly missed. Rest in Peace, Oh Captain, My Captain