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Performers remember Robin Williams, death brings up serious issues

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- He warmed your hearts as a quirky alien and a cross-dressing nanny. But behind those sparkling eyes was apparently a deep sadness.

Investigators say Robin Williams hanged himself with a belt yesterday at his northern California home.

Even though the academy award winner is not with us anymore, his legacy lives on. And his death magnifies some serious issues in our society.

"I don't think there is anybody that is like Robin Williams, or maybe ever will be,” performer Steve Rassin said.

Robin Williams got his break as a quirky alien in "Mork and Mindy,” entertaining the masses for decades with his many voices, and outlandish physical comedy.

"The thing I loved about Robin Williams was his freedom,” Rassin said.

But the funnyman who made so many laugh, lost his battle with depression Monday.

"When people commit suicide, it’s usually because there is a combination of helplessness and hopelessness, and they just see no way out of their situation,” Therapist Arlene Gallan said.

This is something Louise Lane knows well. Her father, who she says reminded her so much of Robin Williams, committed suicide four years ago.

"It was, it just took me back to the moment after my dad died, just the realness of the situation,” Lane said.

A situation Lane says has been swept under the rug. Gallan says there is a huge stigma on mental illness that needs to be tackled head on.

"In our society, we have a tendency to minimize those comments. ‘Oh, he's just this,’ ‘oh, he's just drinking too much,’ and to not pay attention."

If you want to help a friend in need, experts say watch out for people who may be giving away their stuff and tying up loose ends.

And if you or someone you know is considering suicide, experts say the best thing to do is simply talk to someone about it.

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