Mental health professionals in Ottawa say Robin Williams’s death by suicide proves that depression can affect anyone, regardless of wealth and fame.

The 63-year-old comedian and actor took his own life at home on Monday after battles with depression and addiction, leading to an outpouring of sadness from around the world.

Dr. Zul Merali, CEO of the The Royal's Institute of Mental Health Research, said Williams appeared on the surface to have everything to live for.

Zul Merali Royal Ottawa Mental Health Robin Williams

Zul Merali, CEO of The Royal's Institute of Mental Health, said depression deadens some of the things others expect will make people happy. (CBC)

“When you look at people who you think should be happy based on everything they have, it doesn't necessarily translate to happiness within themselves,” he said.

“If you have a condition like depression those things don't mean as much.”

Those who work in the comedy industry said Williams’s death is a reminder of the darker side of the business.

"It's not surprising; this is a gladiator type of art form. It's the only one that's like that,” said Lamont Ferguson, a comic from California who met Williams twice and is in Ottawa to perform.

Robin Williams

Actor Robin Williams poses for a portrait during the 35th Annual People's Choice Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for PCA)

“If I'm an actor and something goes wrong, I have a whole bunch of people I can blame that on other than myself."

“Especially someone with that much energy…  it’s hard to maintain that through all the ups and downs he had in his life,” said Jason Laurans, who owns the Absolute Comedy club on Preston Street.

“There’s a lot of that in this business … when you’re on stage it’s such a high [but] to have a week where you’re not working, to not have that high, that feeling again of that stage … the business is very difficult.”

Suicide prevention

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