battling depression


This past weekend would’ve marked the 64th birthday of comedy legend, Robin Williams, who died almost four years ago from suicide. As fans, we had no idea what he was going through, but in private he was fighting a bout with depression.

Since then we’ve lost a number celebrities to suicide. This year alone we’ve lost at least two more- Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer and entrepreneur Kate Spade.

For years rappers have been candid about their battles with depression and suicidal thoughts, from Kid Cudi to Joe Budden. XXXTentacion, who was recently killed in his home state of Florida, talked openly about suicide, including on his hit song Sad.

According to, a suicide happens every 16.2 minutes in the United States and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says suicide claims an average of 123 lives every day. Meanwhile, in Canada 11 people will die by suicide today according to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. These numbers are alarming and absolutely heartbreaking.

Rappers with mental illness
Rappers who have suffered from mental illness (credit: Peter Pham, rodrigoferrari by CC BY 2.0)

In Canada, the conversation has started. We have many initiatives promoting talking about mental illness including a national campaign led by Bell Media called Bell Let’s Talk. Our problem according to experts is treatment. There aren’t enough people to help these individuals through life, not enough people to listen to and guide others through dark times, confusing times and traumatic times, and not enough people willing to be there long enough to see a person through. Often people can suffer for years before finding any sense of relief from pain or a sense of hope.

I obviously didn’t know these individuals, but to me, and I’m sure most, they were successful at life. They had it all but still suffered in their minds.

Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain and Kade Spade were very special people, but there are also some very special people whose names we don’t know who are facing or losing this battle everyday.

Advice for talent and creators battling suicide and depression

1. Live in the moment

Sometimes you gotta get out of it- live in the moment, relive the good moments often and help retrain your mind to focus on life and living.

2. Celebrate the little victories

Try and find those rays of hope and then create more rays. Celebrate the little victories and let others help you see other perspectives that feed the good in your life.

3. Feed your confidence

Remind yourself how you got through hard times before and if that seems hard, seek help. Write things down, talk to and encourage yourself. Hearing and writing can be very therapeutic. If you need to escape, do so in ways that rejuvenate and restore you so you come back stronger. Get yourself people that can and will support you so you’re not in life alone.

If you’re an artist, talent, influencer, leader or average person and you need someone to talk to, contact SHIFTER at We’d love to talk.

Koliah Bourne