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Robin Williams's Struggle with Depression and Addiction; U.S. Helicopters on Rescue Mission in Iraq; Celebrating Life of Robin Williams

Aired August 12, 2014 - 07:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to "NEW DAY" once again. We're following, of course, the death of Oscar winning actor and comedian Robin Williams. Authorities in Marin County, they believe that the 63-year-old actor took his own life. Williams battled with depression for years and his struggle with sobriety was something that he talked very publicly about with Larry King on CNN as well.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: What happens in rehab?

ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR: What happens? You dry out. What happens, that people basically start the process of, you know, just saying no and being among others, you know, and learning that you're not alone and working on giving up.

KING: Do you lose your sense of humor in it?

WILLIAMS: No. You find it. You're with people who have a great sense of humor.

KING: So, you're funny, there, too.

WILLIAMS: Oh, yeah, you got to be.


BOLDUAN: Let's talk more about this. Let's bring in psychiatrist Dr. Jodi Gold to learn a little bit more. We were just talking about, even before we came out in the segment, he seems like someone who had it together. And that's why maybe it's so shocking for folks.

JODI GOLD, M.D., PSYCHIATRIST: Yeah, it's really tragic. This is a man that's been talking about his mental illness since the 1970s.

BOLDUAN: This is very popular ....

GOLD: I know. And he's been a role model and an advocate for mental illness. He's talked about depression, he talked about bipolar and about his struggles with addiction.

BOLDUAN: What does that tell you as a psychiatrist? What - does that bring to light kind of the ugly truth that even if you're talking about it publicly, it doesn't mean that it's not right back there waiting for you?

GOLD: You know, it's an insidious illness, all of it. It can be treated and managed. But just because on the surface he looked like he had it all together doesn't mean that he wasn't tortured on the inside.

BOLDUAN: And what is - what kind of perspective can you offer? Because I think one of the -- obviously, the most shocking thing about this is you have a man who brought so much joy and laughter to so many people who seemed to thrive on bringing happiness to people's lives. But how can you square that then with - he battled this so privately, even though you talk about it publicly, and he lost the battle to those private demons?

GOLD: I know. I think the fact that he on the outside had it all together doesn't mean anything. It doesn't mean that he didn't struggle with depression. It sounds like one of the ways he coped with the depression was by being so gregarious and outgoing. I mean he was very honest about his sort of bipolar disorder, and when he was manic, I think he felt funnier and more driven. And he was sort of a role model for people who struggled with bipolar disorder and depression. That you can endure, you could be funny, you could be successful. But he struggled and he lost the battle.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, how does addiction and depression go hand in hand? Because when you look at kind of -- and we know well kind of the -- his track record. He talked publicly about his cocaine and alcohol abuse. He quit that cold turkey after one of his very close friends, John Belushi died. Then you have -- then he fell off, then he fell back into drinking back in the early 2000s. And he talked very publicly about that, I remember, in an interview with Diane Sawyer talking about that again. And then he was just in rehab this summer, I believe, once again dealing with his -- dealing with his demons. How -- how does addiction and depression, how does it go hand in hand?

GOLD: So, in medicine, we talk about comorbidities, which means that two illnesses can co-occur. So, it's very common for people with depression to struggle with substance abuse. And with people who have substance abuse to have depression as well. I mean while he had a lot of success, he also had a lot of risk factors. He suffered from addiction, he suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. He was an older man, which all of risk factors for suicide.

BOLDUAN: And one of the things that's also surprising is he's been battling and very public about this for so many years. It was - his family, his friends, especially his closest loved ones, they were -- they had to have been aware of the triggers or if he was maybe going into that dark place again, you would hope. But does it show you that it doesn't matter how close your loved ones are, that it's something that you have to deal with on a very, very private, personal level?

GOLD: You have to deal with it on a private, personal level, but I want to be clear, that a lot of suicides are preventable. I don't know in this case whether this was preventable or not. BOLDUAN: Right.

GOLD: But I think that what I think he would want the message to be is that while you have to suffer and work, it can be preventable and that families that have loved ones that suffer from depression and suicide, they need to take it seriously, they need to ask questions. You need to be there and get help.

BOLDUAN: Even if you did look like one of those who had it together.

GOLD: Yeah. Just having it together doesn't mean that on inside he's not struggling. And if you have a loved one, that's struggling with depression or has suicidal thoughts, you have got to ask them about it, you have got to remove firearms, if you think they are risk for suicide, you have got to get them help. You have to take it seriously.

BOLDUAN: Some of these tough questions, of course. I'm sure a lot of his family and friends are asking themselves this morning. As we all continue, though, to celebrate his life. Dr. Jodi Gold, thanks so much for being here.

GOLD: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

Michaela, let's go over to you.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's give you a look at your headlines. Great conversation, Kate. 7:34.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging Iraq's newly designated prime minister to govern inclusively building a united front against ISIS militants. Haider al-Abadi was nominated to replace Nouri al- Maliki, but al- Maliki saying he's not going to go quietly. He claims appointing a successor is illegal and is threatening to use the courts or even armed force to keep his job.

The FBI has now joined the investigation into the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen in Missouri. 18-year old Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson over the weekend. Tensions there still on the rise, overnight more violence and gunshots as police in riot gear deployed tear gas. This was hundreds of people protesting on the street.

Overseas, Ukrainian residents are being urged to evacuate the two rebel strongholds of Donetsk and Lugansk. Government troops are raging corridors out of those areas ahead of a planned assault to drive out pro-Russian separatists. In the meantime, Ukrainian official says a Russian humanitarian convoy does not have permission to enter Ukraine yet. NATO is concerned it could be a ploy by Russian President Vladimir Putin to establish a presence in Ukraine.

A blistering criticism of NSA data collection only now coming to light. A newly declassified FISA court decision shows a top secret program that electronically monitored Internet metadata was plagued by years of systemic over collection. The memo questions the NSA's ability to manage the program. Now, the decision is heavily redacted. So it's unclear exactly when it was written. That program was scrapped after a 2011 review found it wasn't fulfilling its mission.

BERMAN: Systemic overcollection.

PEREIRA: That doesn't sound good.

BERMAN: No. All right. A lot going on this morning. Next up for us on "NEW DAY," just amazing images of humanitarian mission as it happened in Iraq. Our reporter in the middle of it all. The desperate, dangerous, crucial effort to deliver aid and to rescue refugees.

BOLDUAN: Plus, we are remembering Robin Williams this morning. The Oscar winning actor and comedian appeared many times on CNN. We're going to take a look back.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone. In Iraq, the political turmoil and the fight against ISIS militants only parts now of the big picture. There was also this humanitarian crisis unfolding. Civilians, thousands of them in need of the basics. Food, water, diapers, formula. They're stranded on a mountain by ISIS right now. They're members of the Yazidi minority. Refugees desperate for any bit of help. And desperate, frankly, to get off that mountain. Our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson went on this life or death of rescue mission to that mountain under siege.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Machine gunners unleashed bursts of hot metal. This is the crew aboard an Iraqi air force helicopter. They burn through cartridges and belts of ammunition while rushing an aircraft full of food, diapers, water and baby's milk over ISIS frontlines for civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain.

They're opening fire at targets down below. They say that they (INAUDIBLE) and they're clearly trying to defend the aircraft. You can see the people below trapped on Sinjar Mountain, they're clustered under olive trees right now waving to us. They seem to have gathered in these shelters down here. A lot of women and children waving.

The crew hurls packages out the door. People swarm the chopper. This has been one chaotic aid distribution. I mean I really hope we didn't hurt anybody with the bottles of water we were throwing down from the height of 20, 30 feet. It's chaotic. But people were waving. They were giving thumbs up. And there are a couple people very relieved to be off the mountain and clearly very, very frightened.

Then the helicopter lands one last time to pick up more passengers.

Here they come.

More desperate people throw themselves at the aircraft. Heaving their children on board. It's first come, first serve. There were some who couldn't make it. Aboard the aircraft, shock. Exhaustion. Fear that eventually gives way to relief.

I can't describe to you how relieved people are right now. The -- just shock and the chaos of that moment. But we've got little Aziza here, she's not happy. Because she says her father got left behind. The gunners are opening fire on targets below. They're protecting the helicopter. But it's terrifying these little kids who are traumatized after their week trapped on that mountain. The problem is we're flying over right these front lines. This is the only protection we have right now to protect the aircraft and its precious cargo.

Tensions ease when we cross into Kurdish controlled territory. And for a moment, there are even smiles as these children realize their ordeal on the mountain is finally over. Ivan Watson, CNN over Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq.


BERMAN: See them smile like that is such a welcome thing. Most of us thank god will never know what it's like to fear for our lives or may be even assume that we will not survive like the people on that mountain right now.

BOLDUAN: Ivan pointed out, I mean they are traumatized from their week having to spend on that mountain. It's not just that week. I mean they are fleeing with nothing. They fled their homes with whatever they had on their back because these tens of thousands are people are stuck there because they were facing genocide. An unbelievable option. They were either convert or be killed, is what ISIS is presenting most of them. It's just unbelievable.

PEREIRA: Many of them probably felt that there was no hope. They didn't think there would be help coming their way. And what a miracle that that helicopter -- just - ...

BOLDUAN: More thanks to Ivan Watson for bringing that story to all of us and all of you. Thank you so much.

We are going to take a break there. Coming up next on "NEW DAY," we're going to return to talking about Robin Williams, the loss of a legend. Coming up, some of Williams' signature CNN moments.



JAY LENO, TV HOST: "Star Wars" fan?

WILLIAMS: My favorite character is Yoda. I just leave the fact ...

LENO: You like Yoda?

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Sin tax none have.

(LAUGHTER) WILLIAMS: The centic may be show now. Stoned maybe are.


LENO: I always thought you are more of a Chewbacca guy, but no ...

WILLIAMS: Not a good thing. Just because of the hair?

LENO: Well, the hair and all that.


PEREIRA: The only one that would make, I think of a stone Yoda. You know what I mean? Welcome back to "NEW DAY". That was Robin Williams, of course, on this night show with Jay Leno just last year. This morning, we are celebrating the life and legacy, the work of Williams who died Monday of an apparent suicide. As a fellow comedian put it, he was simply a force of nature. The Oscar -- winning actor and comedian appeared many times here on CNN, often talking freely and openly about some of the personal demons that he battled that may, in the end, have led to his death.


WILLIAMS: I was drunk.

KING: You were drunk.

WILLIAMS: OK, go tight on there -- just real tight, if you can. That's tight? Just try and cut the suspenders because I wore those first.

WILLIAMS: Kiss me, just do it now, don't be afraid, hold me.

KING: Next project you're doing "Blubber"?

WILLIAMS: Musical?


WILLIAMS: When you see about somewhere out at sea don't you swim as fast as me with an old Canuck it's blubber, blubber, don't you try


KING: All right, Blubber, I read it wrong.

WILLIAMS: And New York is good, because it was a couple of places that are just fun.


WILLIAMS: Second home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. WILLIAMS: You know, more like home in terms of, you know, sanctuary. For those who are damaged you can go on and do what you do and it's safe.

This is there. Sneaky.


WILLIAMS: That's another character. Look, it's sneaky! I can't believe she came here. Where's my more proof, more proof!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's up with Schwarzenegger? Then -- that was OK with you?

WILLIAMS: I did it for as long as I could right now.


WILLIAMS: And my uncle used to be - he wasn't in the SS. He was just in catering.

Just to see Hillary, wow, pretty girl. Walk ten miles in the snow just to stand in her garbage. But this was -- oh, see, she heard me. She makes that noise and I don't need the leash. Woof!


WILLIAMS: I was a drunk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were a drunk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's nice of you to say that.

WILLIAMS: It's always good for me to come to Vegas after rehab. I love that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good time for you.

WILLIAMS: Good time for me. It's like going to Colombia, you know. But where are you going to detox? Colombia.

KING: How were they when you went into rehab?

WILLIAMS: They were good. I think they - knew it was time.

Dad is sleeping.


WILLIAMS: No, no, don't tell daddy - Shhh. I don't know how the vodka got here. It's crazy.

KING: Now, do you think you've beaten it?

WILLIAMS: Oh, Larry, it's always there. Yeah, I kicked it. I'm fine. No, the idea is that you always have a little bit of fear, like you have to just keep at it. You know, it's a day by day.

We would do a Spanish telethon.


WILLIAMS: Laughter is an enema for the soul. And we -- releasing ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laughter is an enema for the soul.

WILLIAMS: Good luck with that one.


BOLDUAN: Billy Crystal doesn't know what to do. Billy Crystal is a funny guy. He doesn't know what to do.

PEREIRA: You know that, if you have ever covered a movie junky, you know, they can be endless but when you saw Robin Williams walk into the room you just knew that this was going to be genius. And you saw some of the gold moments right there, just brilliant.

BOLDUAN: If you're interviewing Robin Williams, you just walk in, put on your seat belt and see where it takes you.

PEREIRA: Hope your stomach muscles can take the workout.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

PEREIRA: You really ...

BOLDUAN: Oh my god.

BERMAN: I will say the one thing that it is sad, his awareness, though, about his addiction and his problems, the fact that he can talk about it and is so aware I think makes it all the more tragic now that it has taken him from us.

BOLDUAN: He said it right to Larry King, it's always right there. It's always right there. That's anyone who struggles with depression or addiction or both will say exactly that. It is always right there.

PEREIRA: I'm really glad that we're looking at that as well. We've been really wanting to celebrate the life and the tremendous laughter that will live on in his legacy. We can't whitewash the fact that he struggled with this. And many people are in our nation and we have to shine a light on it. We can't keep turning sort of a blind eye.

BOLDUAN: In his poor family is dealing with that, too.

PEREIRA: They are.

BOLDUAN: Let's take another break, though, on "NEW DAY." Coming up we are going to have much more on Robin Williams, the passing of a legend.

But also this, we are going to be covering ahead, the latest on the fierce power struggle in Iraq, as the United States keeps pounding ISIS militant targets with air strikes.

BERMAN: And violence erupts again in a St. Louis suburb. More protests in the wake of the shooting death of an 18-year-old boy. Michael Brown shot by police. Now the FBI is getting involved.


BOLDUAN: This morning, the death of a comedy icon. Robin Williams dead at 63.


WILLIAMS: Good morning, Vietnam!

BOLDUAN: The funniest man of his generation is gone.

WILLIAMS: My first day as a woman, and I'm getting hot flashes.


BOLDUAN: New details on his death and his complicated history with addiction and depression, as friends, family, and the world celebrate his unforgettable roles and remember the laughter he left behind.

BERMAN: Political chaos erupting in Iraq. The White House backing the new pick for prime minister, but the current man in office will not go quietly. This as CNN witnesses firsthand a terrifying rescue as people are pulled from the grasp of ISIS. The amazing video you just have to see.