I was saddened yesterday to hear about the passing of Keith Flint of The Prodigy who had taken his life. I wouldn’t ever claim to be their biggest fan, but their music has been present at different stages of my life. I was never a massive fan of dance music, even in my clubbing days, as I preferred a 70’s night (Brutus Gold and the Love Train at the Town & Country Club) or a rock and indie night with a good mix of danceable tunes and some classic 80’s thrown in (Top Banana again at the T&C). Even in my time hitting the wild ‘Frontier’ in Batley I enjoyed bits of it but never really got into the whole scene. The Prodigy were a bit different and even in the days of Charly and Out of Space there was something a bit different about them that appealed to me. I saw them live a couple of times, the first time being at V97 and they were a sight to see. Whenever I feel the need at the gym, I’ll put on Fat of the Land to get things going. I’ll never forget when I first heard Firestarter and saw the video which left a lasting impression on me, especially the sight of Keith blasting out the lyrics in a tunnel.
The thing that really moved me was not about the music but more about the person and his suicide. Many people would associate him with the spikey haired headbanger in a tunnel yelling but that doesn’t seem to be the person that was behind that. He had spoken in the past of his battles with drugs and depression and I read an interesting quote yesterday that said everyone loves you when you’re dead, but no-one really cares when you’re alive. The quote made me feel sad and angry as in my experience it is so true. I’ve found in the past that people you thought were your friends soon leave you when you’re having problems. They will tell you that they are concerned about you and that they are always there to help but this often turns out not to be the case. I know there are a few people I can count on but aside from those people my friendships seem to have been littered with lots of empty promises. I know this has been the same for other people I know as well so it would appear to be a more common occurrence than people would like to admit. There are lots of people who will post messages on Facebook about being there and helping friends but how often do will they stand by those words? We seem to be living in a social media society where it is becoming more important to post about all the things that you’d like to do or be like, but you don’t follow through with them.
At this point it’s worth noting that I understand that life gets in the way, and it has done for me in the past, but it doesn’t always have to. I’ll always regret that I couldn’t do more to help Dan and wonder if there was anything I could have done to stop him taking his life. Should I have spoken to him more often? Should I have seen him more frequently? Why didn’t I know things had got that bad? Why didn’t he call if he knew I was there? All these questions will remain unanswered and there is nothing I can do to change the past, I can only focus on the future and trying to ensure that I’m there for my friends. It might have felt to Keith like he was alone and that no-one cared as that is something that anyone who has suffered from depression will empathise with. This is especially the case when you end up isolating yourself and pushing people away because of how you feel. This can be exasperated when you are in a position of fame as I would imagine that it is very difficult to know who to trust and keep your real friends close. I’m not someone who buys into the tortured artist idea and that this is an inevitable result. In my opinion they end up being successful in music or art because they find it an outlet for getting out how they feel and that is why they become so successful as they find their true voice. The same could be said for Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain and many others that have enriched other peoples lives through their art. I don’t think fame is the problem, the problem is their mental wellbeing, but fame can highlight it as it can make them feel even more isolated and lonely.
What can we do to try and tackle the problem of suicide? Historically, men have always found it difficult to show any emotion and admit that they have a problem as they don’t want to show any weakness. For me, this is now an outdated notion as some of the strongest people I know are the ones who are dealing with their weaknesses and have had the strength to speak out rather than keeping it to themselves. We need to be more open, talk about our problems, seek help and be more kind to each other. All these things would go a long way and if you are struggling or know someone who is, please, please, please try and seek some help or talk to someone. There are too many people taking a permanent solution to what could be a temporary problem. We all need to be more kind to each other as you never know what someone is going through. Let’s all be more honest with each other and stop trying to show that we’re all perfect, we all have flaws and you will be a better person if you can admit that and try to work on them. I know that I have flaws, I still have ups and downs and there are still days when I just want to curl up in bed and cry. This doesn’t make me any less of a man or weak, it just means that I’m human. This year I’ve been working hard on finding the causes and I’ve been making good progress, but it doesn’t mean that life is perfect or that I’m over it. I still take medication to help with it but there is still some way to go. Thankfully I do have some lovely people in my corner who I know are there for me even if many others aren’t.
Be kind to each other and try and look out for your friends as if they are finding life difficult, they might not want to say anything. A kind word or a nice gesture doesn’t have to cost anything, but it could mean the world to someone. Show those around you how much you love them as we’ve all got a limited amount of time.
If you are struggling and need help, have a look at the Resources page on our website as there are some links to great places that will be able to help. If you don’t want to contact one of them, please talk/text/message one of your friends. We can beat this together and you are not alone in feeling like this.
Onwards and upwards