LOS ANGELES - Robin Williams inspired an entire generation of movie buffs and actors when they were just children. But his tragic end in an apparent suicide has also served notice of the dangers that come with fame.
Williams struggled for years with substance abuse and depression, and his death came just months after that of another huge Hollywood star, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of a heroin overdose as he relapsed after years being clean.
Tom Nunan, founder of Bull's Eye Entertainment and a professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, said Williams' career showed young actors that "they really can do anything. They can perform on broadway, do fundraisers with their talent..."
"He did stretch way beyond what a stand up comedian does in entertainment," Nunan said. "That's a huge contribution." But the comedian's tragic death also serves as a warning of the need to deal with one's inner demons, he said.
"You mustn't give in. You must fix your (mental) illnesses," Nunan said.
"A lot of comedians have this disease, this depression. They have to take a good look at the mirror and ask, 'do I get the help I need'?" said the professor.
Film student Tyler Hoskins, 23, said Williams' case was an awakening for him personally as an artist.
It made him understand that "no matter how big you get, how much fame and money you have, it's never going to fix those issues you have in your life," said Hoskins.
What is more, "it really opened my eyes" to the problem of depression. "I never thought he had depression," added the student.
Another film student, Nick Kwak, 22, said "there's too much pressure. So many people have these issues and don't come forward." They resist "pressure to keep up your image." "You're expected to maintain that status. You cannot get down from your pedestal," he added.
Kwak noted that although Williams was prolific, he felt that the actor had not been generating films that were on par with his huge hits of the 1980s and 90s, such as "Good Will Hunting", "Madame Doubtfire", "Good morning Vietnam" or "Dead Poets Society." The comedy legend was found dead on Monday in the bedroom of his home near San Francisco with a belt around his neck and slight wounds to his wrist, police said.
A formal investigation is under way, but the local sheriff's office in Marin County, California has said all the evidence points to suicide.
A cause of death will not be declared until toxicology tests are complete.