PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A day after actor and comedian Robin Williams took his own life, many are still talking about how a man known for his laughter could have been so overcome by depression.

Williams’ suicide is raising awareness about depression, an illness not many know a lot about.

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“It’s a shame that he did it. I think it brings light on a subject – how important life is,” Jason Franks of Elizabeth Township said after hearing about Williams’ death.

But the comic genius of Robin Williams was long-tempered by his personal struggle with that brilliant mind of his, chronic depression – and a self-confessed addiction to alcohol and other drugs.

“Disbelief, shock, not really believing it was true. Thought it was a fake online thing,” said Joel Ambrose of Shadyside.

On Monday Williams’ pain became too much.

Millicent Smith recalls, “I remember telling a friend of mine a couple of years ago – he was always on the edge.”

“This is sad. We are all diminished when we lose any human being.”

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Dr. Neil Capretto, Director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center where illnesses like depression and substance abuse are treated simultaneously says it’s a daily battle.

“We tell our patients, you have to be mindful every day of your life – and manage it one day at a time.”

And, for most – there is a real silver lining.

“It’s also a message that there is still hope – if yu reach out for help – help is available.”

Laughter is often “the best medicine.” It releases feel good endorphins, is an antidote to stress and pain, boosts immunity, increases blood flow – and is contagious.

Robin Williams was as fine a physician in that specialty as we’ve ever seen. Sadly, he couldn’t heal himself.

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