Robin Williams brought joy to the lives of so many people through his comedy, acting, and charity work. There is no doubt he will forever be remembered for his comedic genius and heartwarming performances.
Tragically, Robin died by suicide in 2014 at age 63. The event shook the entertainment world and caused millions of fans to grieve for the loss of such a beloved actor and human being who brought so much humor to the world. What many people do not know is that depression was not the underlying cause of Robin’s suicide—rather, it was a little-known brain disease called Lewy body dementia.
In the last year of his life, Robin experienced a startling pattern of behavior. His friends, family, and film colleagues could tell he was not himself as he began exhibiting symptoms like confusion, forgetfulness, paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety, personality changes, and difficulty with movement. Robin could tell something was wrong, too, but he did not know what was happening to him, why it was happening, or how to stop it.
Robin and his wife, Susan Schneider Williams, sought help from numerous medical specialists, but were unable to obtain a correct diagnosis before his untimely death. After his death, an autopsy revealed advanced stages of Lewy body dementia, a less common form of dementia that affects an estimated 1.4 million people in the US.
Following Robin’s death, Susan learned everything she could about LBD and how it could explain Robin’s symptoms. Shortly after that, she bravely came forward to publicly reveal the findings of Robin’s autopsy. Susan has since become an advocate for Lewy body dementia awareness, research, and education by spreading information about this devastating disease with the hope of preventing anyone else from going through what she and Robin experienced.
Robin Williams was not alone in his traumatic experience with Lewy body dementia. The goal to fully understand, effectively treat, and even prevent this neurological disease continues to be an active and ongoing area of research. Scientists are investigating various aspects that may influence how the disease develops, including genetics, the environment, and other factors. There is also a goal to identify the biomarkers for LBD, which would make diagnosis and treatment tracking far easier.
As Susan Williams puts it, “Robin is and will always be a larger-than-life spirit who was inside the body of a normal man with a human brain. He just happened to be that one in six who is affected by brain disease.”
SPARK: Robin Williams and His Battle with Lewy Body Dementia is now streaming on Mediflix. Watch this heartfelt documentary to learn more about LBD and the need for an early and accurate diagnosis. Click here to view the film on Mediflix
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia? Are you exhibiting alarming symptoms of the disease? If so, you can find valuable resources on the Lewy Body Dementia Association website, including a 40-page booklet on LBD, an LBD symptoms checklist, a comprehensive treatment summary, and much more. For more information, please contact us through our website, sign up for our email newsletter, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.