Oscar-winning comedian and actor Robin Williams used humor to bring others happiness, which made it all the more heartbreaking when the world learned of his apparent suicide at age 63. Yahoo News and Finance anchor Bianna Golodryga talks with Jamie Masada, founder of the Laugh Factory and a long-time friend of Williams. Masada works with many legendary comedians and knows firsthand the troubles some face off-stage. “He’s genuinely, genuinely one of those guys, such a high energy, we would never figure out anything. He would never let anybody get inside to know what was going on,” says Masada. “They don’t want to talk about their problems. They always want to make people laugh.” In 2011, Masada, with the help of psychologist Ildiko Tabori, started providing onsite therapy for performers at the Laugh Factory to help them cope with the highs and lows that often come with being an entertainer.
Mental health expert Dr. Jeff Gardere explains that depression and substance abuse among performers is more common than one may think, and Williams was no exception. “He was a lifelong addict. It’s a lifelong illness that you take a day at a time … this is a medical problem, and we have stop seeing people who have drug addiction as evil, bad, weak people,” says Gardere.
A version of this article originally appeared on Yahoo News.