firefox causes my system to become unresponsive

since upgrading to firefox 20, I have noticed that after about a half hour of use, the browser starts using up all 1.23 GB of available RAM on my system. when this happens, my system becomes frozen (the clock stops) and I usually have to do a cold reboot. with chrome, when memory gets dangerously low, I can free up more ram by closing unused tabs, but closing tabs with firefox doesn't do any good! what can I do to fix the issue?

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