LOS ANGELES, CA (WVUE) - In Los Angeles Monday night, comedians and fans gathered to remember Robin Williams at several comedy clubs where he first cut his teeth, decades ago.
Comedian Theo Von was among a group of performers who turned out to honor Williams at the famed Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. For Theo - who grew up in Covington and has since taken his own talents to a national stage - it was an emotional experience.
"Just a lot of people getting on stage, sharing stories, shedding tears," Von said. "People were lighting candles and dropping off flowers. It was a really intense night at the first stage where [Williams] had ever performed."
Von said it's difficult to accept the loss of yet another beloved entertainer, who often battled depression and addiction.
"It's really sad to see, you know, especially someone who has more talent than many of us [in the entertainment industry] will ever even dream to have - how he couldn't escape some of the demons. It's pretty tragic," he said.
A publicist says Williams had been dealing with severe depression, and had recently checked himself into a rehab facility. The actor's struggles with drug and alcohol addiction were widely known throughout his career.
"There are many risk factors when you consider Robin Williams," said Dr. Howard Osofsky, Chair of the Psychiatry Dept. at the LSU Health Sciences Center.
With so many people from all walks of life dealing with some of the same kinds of issues, Osofsky said it's important for everyone to understand that things can turn around for the better. However, a major challenge persists for many, who may be afraid of the stigma often attached to depression or other mental health issues.
"It's okay to be treated for diabetes or to be treated for asthma or to be treated for heart disease. It's okay to be treated for mental health symptoms," Osofsky said. "Help is available. It's important to reach out."
With mental health once again under the spotlight following Robin Williams' death, Osofsky said it's critical to pay attention to warning signs, and take action.
"Be aware, with your co-workers, with your friends, with your family members, with yourself - if you're having any symptoms - and try and get some help," he said. "We're talking about giving people a better chance to live a full and strong life and live an enjoyable life."