Local reaction to Robin Williams’ death

In the wake of the tragic loss of Hollywood actor and comedian, Robin Williams, we’re now learning exactly how he died.

In a press conference Tuesday, sheriff’s officials say it was determined Williams hanged himself in his California home.

According to the actor’s representative, he had been battling severe depression.

While many are mourning the loss of one of the “greats”, others are hoping his public passing will help raise awareness of a very serious issue.

“This is kind of a genius who really amazed people,” says Tom Ballmer, the Executive Director of the Stebens Children’s Theater.

Ballmer says no one in the business will ever come close to the true talent Robin Williams was.

“Those of us in the theater, who tried to do improv, know he was so heads and tails over us, that it was always amazing to watch him,” says Ballmer.

While word of his death is proving to be emotional for fans of his work; how he died is hitting Wendy Balles especially hard.

“Anytime I hear of anybody who dies by suicide, it hits my heart. It hits so close to home, you feel your loss all over again.  I’ve been through it. I know what it feels like. I know what his family is going through,” she explains.

Balles lost her brother to suicide 10 years ago this year. She hopes that Williams’ tragic end will shine a spotlight on mental health.

“This is a public health problem, and it’s a need to get that word out, and talk about it and not stigmatize it like we have,” adds Balles.

Balles is co-chairing this year’s “Out of the Darkness” suicide prevention walk in north Iowa on October 4th.

She’s also started a support group for people impacted by suicide. The first meeting is happening this weekend.

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