Family Says Jeni Committed Suicide

The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 13, 2007; 8:51 PM

LOS ANGELES -- Richard Jeni committed suicide after being diagnosed earlier this year with clinical depression and suffering bouts of psychotic paranoia, the late comic's family said Tuesday.

Jeni, 49, was found Saturday with a gunshot wound and later died at the hospital. An autopsy was performed Monday, although the coroner said an official cause of death would not be announced for several weeks.

"The family of Richard Jeni would like to put to rest any assumptions as to the cause of Richard's death. ... Richard Jeni did take his own life," the family said in a statement.

"He was not down or blue, he was ill," the statement said. "Perhaps Richard's passing will encourage people to have sympathy, compassion and understanding for those who are afflicted with mental illness."

Jeni, whose real name was Richard John Colangelo, was a longtime regular on "The Tonight Show," in addition to doing standup comedy.

He also created comedy specials for HBO and appeared in the films "The Mask," "The Aristocrats," "National Lampoon's Dad's Week Off" and "Burn, Hollywood, Burn."

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