By Caroline Graham for Mail On Sunday
A close friend of Robin Williams has blamed the drugs the comedian was taking to combat Parkinson’s disease for his suicide.
Actor Rob Schneider tweeted: ‘Now that we can talk about it #Robin Williams was on a drug treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s. One of the side effects is suicide.’
Schneider, 50, met Williams more than two decades ago when they appeared on the US TV show, Saturday Night Live. They remained close friends and often performed together in stand-up comedy clubs.
Williams’s spokeswoman declined to comment when asked by The Mail on Sunday about rumours that the tragic comic’s family blames the medication he was on for ‘pushing him over the edge’.
A source said: ‘Robin had recently left rehab. He was on medication for anxiety and depression and had also started taking drugs to combat the early onset of Parkinson’s.
‘Many of these drugs list suicidal thoughts as a possible side effect. A lot of Robin’s friends are convinced that the cocktail of prescription pills he was on somehow contributed to his mental state deteriorating as quickly as it did.
‘Robin had always suffered from depression and addiction but the diagnosis and treatment of his Parkinson’s was new, as was the combination of drugs he was on.’
Williams, 63, was last photographed at an art show near his home in Tiburon, northern California, last Saturday night. He appeared frail and thin.
He took his life last Sunday as his third wife Susan Schneider (who is not related to Rob Schneider) slept in the next room. The pair are thought to have been sleeping in separate rooms because Williams was suffering from insomnia brought on by the drugs he was taking.
Williams’s body was found on Monday morning by his personal assistant. Results of toxicology tests are expected to take six weeks.
Experts say Parkinson’s disease can make symptoms of depression worse. America’s National Institute of Mental Health says on its website that people struggling with depression and Parkinson’s ‘suffer higher levels of anxiety and more problems with concentration’ than those suffering from only one of the ailments.
Dr Jeff Bronstein, neurologist specialising in Parkinson’s, said: ‘Obviously getting the diagnosis can make people depressed but we also know there is a much higher incidence of depression even before the disease is recognised. We think it’s one of the early symptoms.’
The funeral of the star of Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire could take place as early as this weekend.
A source told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The funeral will be private and small for family and very close friends only. There will be larger memorials in Los Angeles and New York at a later date.’
Williams was involved in raising money for Parkinson’s research through his friend Michael J. Fox’s foundation before he was diagnosed with the disease.
Back To The Future star Fox tweeted: ‘Stunned to learn Robin had PD. A true friend. I wish him peace.’