Please, ask how your friends are doing

This past Monday when the news broke that Keith Flint of The Prodigy had died at age 49, I was shocked. When the news broke through The Prodigy’s official Instagram that Flint’s death was indeed a suicide, my entire lecture room fell silent. Bewildered utterings along the lines of “fuck me” and “who’d of thought” echoed throughout the day from people who had no idea what to say, or how to process what had happened.

You see, to me, people like Keith Flint have always been enshrouded in a cloak of celebrity dehumanisation; we spend so much time watching these figures perform live atop a stage, separated from us, the human audience, as well as consuming the music they make through faceless mediums, that it’s easy to forget they are indeed real people. This mohican-bearing wild man who scared a young Ryan to death with the music video for ‘Firestarter’ was indeed a real human being, and his untimely and tragic death at a relatively young age is a grim reminder that not everybody who appears to be okay, is.

Though in recent years opening up about one’s mental health has become less stigmatised by the masses, it’s still a thing a large amount of people feel uneasy about doing. I see it reported far too often that a tragically high amount of men and women acknowledge that they may be suffering from some mental health problems, but refuse to seek or accept treatment.

I myself have only started opening up about my struggles within the last 12 months. Though I have no official diagnosis as yet, I am actively researching and seeking the right course of action. Though I have suffered with anxiety-related issues for basically my entire life, I started feeling depression-like symptoms shortly after beginning my first year of university in 2016, at the age of 21. I didn’t speak about it to anyone except my then-girlfriend, who encouraged me to get help but I “didn’t find it worth talking about”. In January 2018 after a year of not seeking help, I attempted to commit suicide — twice within a couple of weeks. I mention this for two reasons: 1) I was afraid to seek help as I feared it’d make me “look weak” and become “less of a ‘man’” and 2) when I confided in my closest friends about it, most of them said the exact same thing: “you seemed fine, though”.

Really, I just wanted to be asked how I was doing.

And I guess that’s what it comes down to. Often times it’s the ones you don’t expect who are suddenly gone. Look at recent cases like Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington and Soundgarden/Audioslave’s Chris Cornell: musicians who had been open about their own mental struggles in the past, but still took the entire world by surprise with their respectives suicides took everybody by surprise. It doesn’t go away just because they aren’t talking about it. In Bennington’s case, photos were published by his widow, Talinda, of the singer smiling with his family only days before his death. In fact, only a month before Keith Flint’s passing, The Prodigy had announced a tour of North America and following his death, Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis revealed that the group were scheduled to play at this year’s Glastonbury Festival.

So often, people suffer in silence because out of fear. Fear of being ridiculed, fear of having their ‘manliness’ devalued by those still living in the remains of toxic masculinity, fear of no one giving a fuck and fear of admitting there’s something wrong. Any way you look at it, it shouldn’t be like this. We, as humans fail as humans when we fail to look after one another. So please, take a minute out of your day today to ask your friends how they’re doing, because you might just change a life for the better and you might not get to do it tomorrow.

There are always people there for you if you’re suffering, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide/ for a list of services and more information.

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Music writer, ‘comedian’ and seasoned gastronaut. I use my initials because my actual name’s boring.

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R.A. Hagan

R.A. Hagan

Music writer, ‘comedian’ and seasoned gastronaut. I use my initials because my actual name’s boring.

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