Less than a week after the untimely death of beloved comedy icon Robin Williams, a statement released by Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, has revealed the actor was suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Williams’ suicide that occurred this past Monday has been shrouded in speculation as people close to him and members of the general public try to understand what brought him to the ultimate decision to take his own life.

According to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, started by fellow actor Michael J. Fox, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are clinical symptoms of people suffering from Parkinson’s, similar to tremors, loss of movement, and trouble speaking. Experts agree that just over half of Parkinson’s patients suffer from clinical depression at some point in their disease, most notably when they are initially diagnosed. Evidence suggests the disease may cause chemical changes in the brain that often result in depression.

Schneider’s statement:

Robin spent so much of his life helping others. Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines, or comforting a sick child — Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid.

Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.

Robin's sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson's Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.

It is our hope in the wake of Robin's tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.