Actor Rob Schneider blamed the suicide of his longtime friend Robin Williams on the Parkinson's disease drugs he was taking to control his tremors.
Schneider, who has been friends with Williams for 20 years, made the remarks on Twitter, writing, "Now that we can talk about it. #RobinWilliams was on a drug treating the symptoms of Parkinson's. One of the side effects is suicide! The evil pharmaceutical industry admits [that] over 100,000 people in the USA die a year from 'prescription' drugs!!"
Rob made the comments shortly after Robin's widow, Susan Schneider (no relation), revealed that Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease shortly before his tragic Aug. 11 suicide. Levodopa (also called L-dopa) is the most commonly prescribed drug for Parkinson's disease. Potential side effects include mood disorders and depression.
Susan said Robin, who had previously struggled with drug addiction and substance abuse, had been clean and sober before his suicide. "Robin's sobriety was intact," his wife wrote in a statement. "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.”
Cycling Fanatic Williams Devastated By Parkinson's Diagnosis
Williams managed his depression and stress through exercise and cycling, and was reportedly extremely upset that Parkinson's would impede his ability to ride his bike and work out.
Parkinson's is a degenerative neurological disease that leads to shaking (tremors) and difficulty walking and moving. There is no known cure, but symptoms can be controlled with drugs. Sadly, there's a close link between depression and Parkinson's disease.
Research shows that 20 to 40 percent of Parkinson’s patients suffer from depression at some point, Philly.com reported. Studies also show that people with a history of midlife depression are more likely to get Parkinson's disease and that Parkinson’s can cause depression even in people who weren't previously depressed.
Michael J. Fox: I Became a Depressed Alcohol After Parkinson's
While Parkinson's usually afflicts people over the age of 50, actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with the disease in 1991 at the age of 30. Fox went public with his condition in 1999 and semi-retired from acting the following year.
Michael J., 53, revealed he fell into a deep depression shortly after his diagnosis and drank heavily to cope with his despair. "My first reaction was to start drinking heavily," Fox said on Howard Stern's radio show in September 2013. "I was drinking alone every day. I just felt helpless. It felt unfair in a way."
After self-medicating with alcohol, Fox finally got some relief after going to psychotherapy, which he credits with helping him deal with the challenges of Parkinson's. Through therapy, Fox realized that Parkinson's wasn't a death sentence.
Michael also learned to appreciate his solid marriage because he realized his wife truly had his back, no matter what life dealt him. Michael married his "Family Ties" co-star Tracy Pollan in 1988, and the couple has four children.
"[After] I went to therapy, it all started to get really clear to me," he said. "My marriage got great and my career started to [take off again]."
During his career, Fox has won four Emmy awards, four Golden Globe awards and two Screen Actors Guild awards. He is now a vocal activist for Parkinson's disease.