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Jeni's family confirms comic killed himself

Comedian Richard Jeni performs in this undated photograph. Jeni, a regular on late-night U.S. television, killed himself but was not despondent about his career despite suffering from mental illness, his family said on Tuesday. REUTERS/HO

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Stand-up comedian and actor Richard Jeni, a regular on late-night U.S. television, killed himself but was not despondent about his career despite suffering from mental illness, his family said on Tuesday.

Jeni, 49, was found at his West Hollywood home on Saturday morning after a woman identifying herself as his girlfriend called authorities to report: “My boyfriend just shot himself in the face.”

He was pronounced dead about an hour later in hospital.

An autopsy was performed on Monday but medical examiners said an official finding on the cause of death would await the result of toxicology tests that could take weeks.

In a statement released to the entertainment TV show “Extra,” Jeni’s family confirmed the comedian “did take his own life.”

The statement said Jeni was diagnosed earlier this year with “severe clinical depression and bouts of psychotic paranoia.” It added that “mental illness is as serious as any physical affliction and can be just as devastating.”

The family disputed rumors that Jeni was depressed over his career, saying he “had just enjoyed one of his most financially rewarding years to date.”

Jeni, who appeared in the Jim Carrey film “The Mask” and the TV show “Everybody Hates Chris,” made Comedy Central’s 2004 list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians.

The Brooklyn-born comic had been a regular guest on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” dating back to when Johnny Carson hosted the top-rated late-night program. He also appeared on the HBO Comedy Hour and wrote material for the 2005 Oscars show.

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