The death of comedian and actor Robin Williams by an apparent suicide is on the mind of actors as they prepare for the start of the Edmonton International Fringe Festival.

On Tuesday, law enforcement officials confirmed that Williams was undergoing treatment for depression at the time of his death. 

“It was sad and shocking but not necessarily surprising,” Edmonton actor Mark Meer said of Williams's death. “Sadly, a lot of people struggle with depression and a lot of comedians tend to as well.”

Meer is best known for his improvisational acting skills. He says Williams’ early work on the TV show Mork and Mindy inspired his career.

“He was the first actor that I heard the word improv used in connection with,” he said. “ A lot of my early perceptions of improv were that.”

Toronto actor Tim Murphy is in Edmonton to perform The Hobbling Buddha, a play about his own battle with depression. 

Murphy says that many actors and artists can relate to Robin Williams’s struggle with mental illness.

“They can tap into the depths and  the joys much more,” Murphy said. “So they do sink down. I think it's much more common.”

Meer said he hopes that people are now talking about depression and mental health.