BOSTON -- The youngest son of the late shah of Iran was found dead Tuesday of an apparent suicide at his home in Boston, after he had "struggled for years to overcome his sorrow," his brother said.

"It is with immense grief that we would like to inform our compatriots of the passing away of Prince Alireza Pahlavi," the shah's oldest son, Reza Pahlavi, wrote on his website in announcing the death.

He said his brother was "deeply disturbed by all the ills fallen upon his beloved homeland, as well as carrying the burden of losing a father and a sister in his young life."

Boston police said they found a man dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound shortly after 2 a.m. (0700 GMT) Tuesday at a home in the city's South End neighborhood.

Police would not confirm the man's identity, but a law enforcement official who was not authorized to release the man's identity and asked for anonymity confirmed that the man was Alireza Pahlavi, 44.

Former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic revolution. He fled Iran and wandered from country to country, ill with cancer, and eventually died in Egypt in 1980.

Alireza Pahlavi was born in Tehran in 1966 and attended school there until 1979, according to a brief biographical sketch on the website of his mother, the former empress Farah Pahlavi.

From 1979 to 1981, Pahlavi attended schools in New York and Cairo, and from 1981 to 1984 he attended Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Pahlavi studied music as an undergraduate at Princeton University and ancient Iranian studies as a graduate student at Columbia University.

He also did postgraduate work at Harvard University in ancient Iranian studies and philology.

In June 2001, a sister of Pahlavi's, Leila Pahlavi, was found dead in her London hotel room. A coroner ruled that her death at age 31 was the result of an overdose of barbiturates.

Her mother said at the time that her daughter had been "very depressed." Her doctor had said she had a history of anorexia, bulimia and psychological problems.

Reza Pahlavi is based in the U.S. and has spoken out in opposition to Iran's clerical regime.

It's not clear how much weight exiled opposition forces have inside Iran, nor how many Iranians support the idea of a return to monarchy. Pahlavi said in 2009 that that is not his goal.

"I'm not here to advocate anything but ... freedom and democracy for the Iranian people at first and I've determined this as my unique mission in life," he said at the time.