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.

“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.”

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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