Musician Henry Rollins is sorry for his comments about Robin Williams' suicide.

Musician Henry Rollins is sorry for his comments about Robin Williams' suicide. Photo: Supplied

Punk rock icon Henry Rollins has apologised for his insensitive comments regarding Robin Williams' suicide after an extraordinary backlash on social media and thousands of letters from outraged fans.

The former Black Flag singer wrote a controversial column in LA Weekly last week which slammed Williams for leaving behind his three children. 

"I simply cannot understand how any parent could kill themselves," Rollins wrote. "How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children?

Friends since the film <em>Father's Day</em>: Billy Crystal and Robin Williams.

Friends since the film Father's Day: Billy Crystal and Robin Williams. Photo: AP

"I don't care how well adjusted your kid might be — choosing to kill yourself, rather than to be there for that child, is every shade of awful, traumatic and confusing. As soon as you have children, you waive your right to take your own life. It should be your utmost goal not to traumatise your kids."

The article was shared 31,000 times on Facebook and enraged thousands of readers who believed Rollins' words showed a complete lack of respect for Williams and his grieving family. 

Rollins issued an apology, before writing another article in LA Weekly where he conceded his comments were been out of line, despite making it clear he too had suffered depression for a period in his life. 

Actor Robin Williams arrives at the premiere of <i>Old Dogs</i> in Hollywood in  2009. Click for more photos

The extraordinary career of Robin Williams

Actor Robin Williams arrives at the premiere of Old Dogs in Hollywood in 2009. Photo: REUTERS

"I am deeply sorry, down to my marrow," Rollins wrote. "I can't think that means anything to you, but I am completely sorry. It is not of my interest to hurt anyone but I know I did." 

"For the last nine hours (sic), I have been answering letters from people from all over the world. The anger is off the scale and in my opinion, well placed. Some of them were very long and the disappointment, resentment and ringing clarity was jarring." 

Williams, 63, took his own life two weeks ago after a long battle with depression and was also in the early stages of Parkinson's disease in more recent months. 

A very outspoken figure, Rollins said he was unreservedly sorry for his comments and hoped it would not tarnish his reputation among fans. 

"That I hurt anyone by what I said, and I did hurt many, disgusts me. It was not at all my intent but it most certainly was the result," Rollins wrote.

"I get so mad when I hear that someone has died this way. Not mad at them, mad at whatever got them there and that no one magically appeared to somehow save them. 

"I am not asking for a break from the caning, take me to the woodshed as much as you see fit. If what I said has caused you to be done with me, I get it."

Williams' friend and fellow comedy actor Billy Crystal paid a heartfelt and sombre tribute to the late comic at yesterday's Emmy Awards.

"It's very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in our lives. For almost 40 years, he was the brightest star in the comedy galaxy," said Crystal.

"But while some of the brightest of celestial bodies are actually extinct, their molten energy long since cooled, miraculously, because they float in the heavens so far away from us now, their beautiful light will shine on us forever.

"And the glow will be so bright, it will warm your heart and make your eyes glisten, and you'll think to yourselves, Robin williams. What a concept."

 ❏ Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

- with AFP