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The coroner’s report into the suicide of American comedian Richard Jeni has revealed a tragic history of depression. The comic shot himself in the head at his West Hollywood home in March, at the age of 49.
The newly-released coroner’s report, reveals that Jeni was involuntarily detained in a mental health unit three months earlier after complaining of suicidal depression and threatening to ‘jump off a building’.
He was diagnosed with ‘suicidality, homicidality, and depression’ and ‘placed on 51/50 hold,’ which allows medics to detain him for up to 72 hours.
Jeni – who was on antidepressant pills – again demonstrated suicidal behaviour a week before his death.
His girlfriend, Amy Hasten, saw the comedian talking to himself, saying: ‘Just squeeze the trigger.’
Hasten told investigators that Jeni – whose real surname was Colangelo – was suffering insomnia and paranoia because of the stress of his work schedule, which involved relentless touring,
At about 9.30am on March 10, Jeni placed the barrel of a .38-calibre Colt Detective Special in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Just five minutes earlier he had been discussing the day ahead with Hasten, who then went downstairs to make breakfast.
She heard a ‘popping sound’ and went upstairs to find Jeni lying on the bathroom in a pool of his blood, and called the emergency 911 number. She told the police operator: ‘My boyfriend just shot himself in the face’.
Jeni was rushed to Cedars-Sinai medical centre, but pronounced dead shortly after arrival. No suicide note was found.
At the time, his family issued a statement saying: ‘Rumours have been circulating as to the cause of his death and have included speculation of Richard being depressed over the state of his career or a physical ailment.
‘Truth is: earlier this year Richard Jeni was diagnosed with severe clinical depression coupled with bouts of psychotic paranoia. He was not down or blue, he was ill,. Perhaps Richard’s passing will encourage people to have sympathy, compassion and understanding for those who are afflicted with mental illness.’
The Brooklyn-born comic was named as one of Comedy Central’s Top 100 Comedians of All Time, and had made several stand-up specials for TV. He appeared in the Jim Carrey movie The Mask and was a regular on The Chris Rock Show.
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