At the recent VMAs (Video Music Awards), rapper Logic took the stage armed with more than lyrics and a compelling voice. Joining the rising star on stage was a host of suicide survivors. Rather than taking the stage to sing, their task was vigorously clapping as Logic looked the audience in the eye and declared that business as usual is over. There will be no further glossing over mental illness.
Before the cast of survivors went into full out clapping mode, Logic performed his statement song which is titled, “1-800-273-8255,” the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The song, which has climbed as high as the billboard’s top five, takes its listener through a journey of a man who is down on life to the point where he declares that he does not want to live anymore. However, after talking matters through and chatting with a hotline worker, the man realizes that he wants to live. On the VMA stage, more than simply singing this catchy and important song, Logic was asking a fair question: when is it enough?
Icons Dying by Suicide
On July 20th, just days before the three year anniversary of comedy legend Robin Williams’ death by suicide, the music industry woke to the news that Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the iconic band Linkin Park, took his life. In one of his last public appearances less than two months before his suicide, the iconic singer performed the iconic song “Hallelujah”. What was the occasion? He was paying tribute at the funeral of his dear friend, rock star Chris Cornell. Chris died by suicide.
To Logic’s question, when is it enough? At what point do we stop considering those with mental illness to be of an inferior breed? In addition to being inaccurate, this societal approach kills. If uber-celebrities feel that people will categorize them as broken if they speak their truths and get medical help for their illnesses, the average man or woman is not going to fare much better.
Logic and Kesha Have Enough
With the suicide survivors littering the stage at the VMAs, Logic delivered his message that business as usual is over, that we have seen enough unnecessary death. His exact words: “I want to thank you all so much for giving me a platform to talk about something that the mainstream media doesn’t want to talk about: mental health and anxiety; suicide and depression… I am here to fight for your equality because I believe that we are all born equal but we are not treated equally, and that is why we must fight.” Yep, those of us with mental illness are equal and anything but inferior. Logic decided that it’s time that we are treated like it.
One mega-singer who was eager to join Logic in informing the crowd that business as usual is over was Kesha. “The truth is piercing and the truth is what matters,” Kesha opined in introducing Logic. “And the truth is that none of us are alone. It takes great courage to show the vulnerable side of being human, and we all have that vulnerable side. Whatever you are going through, however dark it may seem, there is an undeniable truth and strength in the fact that you are not alone. We all have struggles. As long as you never give up on yourself, light will break through the darkness.”
Doing Our Part to End Business as Usual
On the heels of celebrating Rosh Hashana, the Jewish people now enter the period known as the Ten Days of Repentance. This is a period of introspection. Let’s do it right this year. Let’s dwell on how we could have done more to push back against the killer mental illness stigma. Maybe we even unwittingly contributed to it by treating those with mental illness lesser than we would someone without. Regardless, we must do better. It is time to answer Logic’s question of when is it enough? I’d like to think we’ve all had enough. So let’s all decide it: business as usual is over.
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