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Robin Williams was found hanged at his home in the San Francisco area, sheriff's officials have said.

Robin Williams was found hanged at his home in the San Francisco area, sheriff's officials have said.

Marin County Sheriff's Lieutenant Keith Boyd said Williams was found in a bedroom by his personal assistant yesterday. Lt Boyd said toxicology tests will be performed and the investigation is ongoing.

Sheriff's officials said yesterday that a preliminary investigation determined the cause of death was suspected suicide due to asphyxia.

Williams was 63 and had periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression.

Williams' press representative Mara Buxbaum said the actor had been battling severe depression recently. Just last month, Williams announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment programme.

Coroner's officials say he was last seen alive at home around 10pm on Sunday.

Shortly before noon yesterday, the Sheriff's Department received an emergency call from the home, where the star of Good Will Hunting, Mrs Doubtfire, Good Morning, Vietnam and dozens of other films was pronounced dead.

Williams made reference to his substance abuse and depression in his comedy routines, including when he sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse that followed 20 years of sobriety.

Williams joked: "I went to rehab in wine country to keep my options open."

Likewise, when word spread about his struggles with drugs in the early 1980s, Williams responded with a joke that for a time became a catchphrase for his generation's recreational drug use: "Cocaine is God's way of telling you you are making too much money."

Word of his death left neighbours stunned and grief-stricken.

Noreen Nieder said Williams was a friendly neighbour who always said hello and engaged in small talk. Ms Nieder said she felt comfortable enough to approach him and ask him about his latest stint in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

"He was very open about it," Ms Nieder said. "He told me he was doing well."

Fans and friends placed bouquets, candles and personal notes in front of the locked gates of Williams' house.