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Conference On Robin Williams' Death Reveals Too Many Details

A press conference Tuesday confirmed Williams' death is being investigated as a suicide but also went into gruesome detail.
Posted at 4:55 PM, Aug 12, 2014

​A press conference from the Marin County Sheriff's office Tuesday confirmed details of Robin Williams' death — and also might have shared too many.

LT. KEITH BOYD, MARIN COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, VIA KABC: "Preliminary information developed during the investigation by coroner division personnel has revealed Mr. Williams had been seeking treatment for depression. ... The preliminary, and I again say preliminary, results of the forensic examination revealed supporting physical signs that Mr. Williams' life ended from asphyxia due to hanging."

Basically, the conference confirmed what we'd heard Monday — that the comedian's death is being investigated as a suicide. But what we're choosing not to repeat here is additional and much more graphic information the lieutenant shared.

The details were met with backlash on Twitter as they were being announced at the conference.

And we were discussing them in our newsroom. Robin Williams is a beloved celebrity, and while fans will certainly want to know how he died, we feel the specifics are both needless and potentially harmful.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the media limit coverage of the "morbid details" of suicide. By airing the press conference live, outlets gave up any guardrails.

CNN did acknowledge the presser was graphic ...

"You've been listening to pretty gruesome, grim details of the final moment of Robin Williams' life."

... but then proceeded to recount the most disturbing details. The CDC also advises against repetitive and ongoing coverage of suicide.

Fox News did the same — also calling the details "gruesome," then repeating them, and even bringing on a forensic pathologist to analyze the specifics, including exploring the possibility of marital problems between Williams and his wife.

Which, of course, is not the kind of work a forensic pathologist typically does.

MSNBC and HLN were the only major cable news outlets that didn't go into a repetition of the details immediately following the press conference. HLN, in fact, cut the press conference short to speak to friends and associates of Williams instead.

According to BNO News, Williams' publicist wouldn't comment on whether the family approved of Tuesday's conference and its details.

The lieutenant did not comment on whether a note was found at the scene and refused to provide certain details to reporters, citing the ongoing investigation. Toxicology results won't be available for two to six weeks, when a final press conference will be held.

This video contains images from Getty Images.