You are not alone. That’s the message Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro and other panelists at Production Live! tried to get across to those in the live touring business who are suffering from depression, addiction or contemplating suicide.
The frank discussion was part of a session entitled “Even Superman Gets the Blues: Stay Clean Healthy and Strong as a Road Warrior,” which also featured Michael Des Barres, on-air talent at SiriusXM; Harold Owens, senior director at MusiCares; and Lyn Morris, senior vice president, clinical operations at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services is based in Culver City, Calif., but has 10 sites in Los Angeles and the first National Suicide Prevention Center, Morris said.
“We have seen an increase of calls on our National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” with over 100,000 in the last year, she said. “So more and more people are reaching out for help, which is a good thing, because we want to reach people before they get into that crisis and before they are in the depths of depression.”
She said middle schoolers and teenagers are talking about suicide and are learning how to ask their friends if they are OK when they appear to be in emotional pain.
“We as adults need to do more of that and take care of each other, because we need to create a community, we need to create a safety net,” she said.
If middle schoolers can find the courage to ask someone if they are contemplating suicide, then adults need to learn how be comfortable asking the question as well, Morris said.
Navarro, 53, said he has been dealing with depression and addiction for 40 years and that later in life, when he was touring, being in a band was like having two families, and both were dysfunctional.
“Having had help has given me the opportunity to understand my depression, understand that it’s a momentary thing,” he said. “It’s not forever.”
Asking for help is not a shameful thing to do, he said.
Added Morris: “People who are suicidal don’t necessarily want to die, they just want to end the pain that they are in.”
“It’s hard to reach out for help sometimes when people are in that despair so that’s why we all have to take care of each other,” she said. “Suicide is everybody’s business, it impacts everybody. And to be able to ask and show care toward someone can mean a lot. It can save a life.”
Navarro said that when he was in a hotel room ready to end it all, he would have done anything for someone to come through the door and save him.
“I just didn’t want to ask,” he said.
During round of questions from the audience, one person noted that people might not seek help because they are afraid of losing their gig, but he challenged those in the industry to step up to the plate and stick with people who seek help for their mental health and/or addiction issues, asking them to keep an open mind and an open hand.
“It starts with everyone in this room,” he said.
Help can be a phone call away. Anyone who is contemplating suicide or knows someone who might be can call the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services 24-hour Crisis Line at 800-273-8255.