Thursday, November 20, 2008

Suicide and Musicians

"Send in your skeletons, Sing as their bones come marching in... again...
They need you buried deep, The secrets that you keep are at the ready"
- The Pretender (Foo Fighters)

It was a year ago today. Her father called. "Hey, how ya doin'?" I asked. "Can I talk to your mom?" he said.

"Joe, what's wrong?" mom asked. I was having an average day up until that point. A worry here and there, just normal. Mom choked, sobbed...I'll never forget how she clutched my shirt and twisted for support. It was as if she had grabbed the detonator that we all have, and yanked. How one hand was holding the phone receiver, and her other hand tensed, seized the pen, and scrawled on the scrap of paper on the table

_______ Killed Her self.

The shaky, frantic, desperately black letters will forever be etched in my mind.

Gee, it's hard for me to write this, even though it's been a year. It still makes me feel sick. A lightning bolt out of a clear blue sky. And the Foo Fighter's hit song The Pretender will always play in my head when I think of that day.


I was getting ready for a big gig. "Hmm, where did I put the drill?" Lugging the amp onstage. Making sure I had the cables. Slightly stressed, but still good. The soundman showed up, and we started chatting. "Yo bro, how are ya?"

"Good man, 'cept I just got back from a buddy's funeral." "Geeze, man, that sucks. Who was it?" "Devin."


Devin? He's the guy who humiliated me honorably in a guitar duel. He beat me bad. A few years later, he took some lessons from me. I still don't now why. He was so much better.

Him and his buddies would always try to get me to play all sorts of shocking heavy metal over the PA at a family place. He was playing bigger clubs than I was, and man, he was good. I think one of the last times I saw him was at the crafts store. There he was, in his Dimmu Borgir shirt, and store apron, figuring out where to restock the fake roses. Not exactly metal. But darn smart. Most of the employees and customers are female. "Devin, you're brilliant. I admitted as I shook his hand. "How so?" He asked. "You know how!"

And now he's dead.

And now she's dead.

I didn't know either of them particularly well. I wasn't very close. They were both fine musicians. He was a black guy with dreads who played shred guitar. I was a white guy with 80's hair playing in an all black funk band. "Devin, somethin' ain't right here!" I said to him once.

All we have left of him is a guitar we can pawn for two hundred bucks. That's two pairs of shoes.

She was scary good on the violin. Nobody listened to her cry for help. Now she's gone, and all we have left is a stone. A rock.

We are all intensely interconnected in the grid of human experience. No matter how isolated or insignificant someone feels, "unplugging" from this grid rips out untold numbers of hearts, scars faces, and mutilates consciousness.

There should always be help there. There should always be a hand to grab for those stumbling in the darkness.

She tried, and was rebuffed. How could that have happened?

As musicians and creative people, we can get lost in emotions sometimes. Check out Kurt Cobain. OK - It's so important to help ourselves, and to help each other.

If you or someone you know is in a bad place, here's a few things you can check out:

Please - visit the site. If for nothing else, for me. For her family. And for his family. And how about for yours?

Also, us young people tend to band together. I've talked to people over instant messenger before who were in a very dark place. The number one rule here is: get a professional involved. You cannot, and should not, try to be a hero and do this on your own. It could end up very bad. I'll say it again: Get a pro involved. Click on those links above, and if those don't work, email me, and I'll put you in touch.

The US number is:


Worldwide (click HERE)

Listen hard to your music. Listen hard to your tone. But listen the hardest for a cry for help. Talk to your friends. Check in with 'em. Talk about something real for once. Here's a list of warning signs.

Take good care,

"Even if I say
It'll be alright,
Still I hear you say you want to end your life,
Now and again we try,
To just stay alive,
Maybe we'll turn it all around,
'Cause it's not too late,
It's never too late"
- Three Days Grace Never Too Late

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