Suicide rates have risen dramatically in this country over the past two decades, quietly morphing into a full-blown public health crisis. In the past week alone, we’ve lost Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, two beloved celebrities, to struggles with depression and mental health. And last night, Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold took to Instagram to share his own experiences of coping with suicidal ideation, clarifying earlier comments that some took to be insensitive:
I’ll try this again: in thinking about the deaths of Bourdain and Spade, I made a post earlier today about suicide and mental health. Some comments felt I was being unsympathetic towards the mentally ill or suicidal, so I’d like to rephrase and provide more context for what I was trying to say.
During a period a few years ago when I was dangerously and actively suicidal, my respect for my loved ones and my knowledge of the pain I would cause them was, truly and with no overstatement, the only effective thought I had at my disposal to prevent myself from acting.
I was not saying suicide is selfish in my post. I don’t believe that. I can’t know firsthand another’s interiority, and I also have never had personal experience with a friend or loved one suffering from a truly debilitating psychological disorder. I was not speaking for all who struggle with mental health, just relaying my own lessons and conclusions following years of unwanted destructive mental activity, consistent therapy, medication, and active concerted effort towards self knowledge and education.
The reason it makes me uncomfortable to see suicide lionized is because suicide has been an at-many-times daily part of my psychic reality, even still. It follows me around. When artists are made legends through suicide, I know that some segment of the impressionable population internalizes this as justification for the act. I know this because I have overcome this exact delusion.
It makes me uncomfortable being more explicit, but some of the feedback made me feel the need… I am definitely unqualified to discuss the mental health of others, but it follows that so too is anyone else unqualified to judge my psychic reality and assume that this has not been an unwelcome and pernicious facet of my own lived experience, one that I’ve devoted much effort and resources towards addressing. I can say I took a break between albums to “go back to school” in interviews, but that isn’t the whole story.
I have nothing but empathy for anyone struggling, and I really hope people get the help they need, and that we all make ourselves available to those close to us who need us.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org to chat with someone online.