September was Suicide Prevention Month and more than ever, artists are doing their best to educate fans about the importance of communicating with their loved ones openly about mental health.
Last year, Logic released his heartfelt single "1-800-273-8255," which encouraged listeners who might be struggling with their mental health to be proactive and call the suicide prevention hotline when facing difficult times in their lives. Platinum-selling artist, Aminé, has also been vocal about his inner struggles, most notably on his recently released song "Dr. Whoever,” addressing his challenges with suicidal thoughts. “What keeps me going or keeps me wanting to do more music is just knowing that I can provide for my family," Amine says when grappling with internal battles.
With suicide being the second leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds, it's vital to have an open conversation about mental health struggles and the importance of seeking help. Aminé spoke to Billboard about the importance of communicating with a friend in need, experiences he endured at his lowest moments, and how to stay positive amid the challenges of day-to-day life.
In 2018 more than ever the music industry has gotten a wakeup call for mental health awareness. Can you discuss a time when you were able to be there for a friend that was going through a tough time or a time when you wished you would have?
I don't necessarily think I can get into detail on that end as far as a personal friend because that kind of situation is personal. I know that when it comes to your friends, especially in the music industry, we work so much and do so much that we don't even really keep track of our days, or keep track of our health, or keep track of our mental health. Sometimes we just go astray. Just checking up on someone with a, "Hey, how are you doing?" usually means the most to someone. I try my best to regularly check in with friends who are musicians just because I know we go through things where we feel like people only hit us up because they need something from us like a verse or a promo. As an artist in this day in age with social media, you feel more like an object than you do a human. You feel like you're basically like a Billboard ad. People can be fans of your music, but social media is so big now and it's fun and I use it so much, but it's not really healthy. I'm trying to stay off it, but I'm really such a millennial sometimes.
You have a song called "Dr. Whoever" and it touched a lot of people. On the record, you candidly spoke about a time you had suicidal thoughts. What steps did you take to prevent yourself from hitting rock bottom?
What prevents me from hitting rock bottom is when my mother calls me, you know what I mean? When I hear her voice, I'm very much connected with my mom and this idea of losing her would be the end of the world for me. Like that's just my best friend. What keeps me going or keeps me wanting to do more music is knowing that I can provide for my family, make them happy. Whenever my mother says she's proud of me or anything, that means the world to me. My father as well, but sometimes you're a momma's boy.
You also mentioned on the record that you struggled with taking advice about your mental health. What steps are you taking now to be more open and vocal now about your issues?
What taught me about making "Dr. Whoever" and the reactions I got just from fans I know personally just showed me all fans want from an artist is honesty from them. There's such a personal connection. No matter if I make a "Reel It In," "Caroline" or "Spice Girl," like, yeah, those are hits and people really enjoy those songs, but it's like when someone is alone they wanna listen to a song like "Dr. Whoever" and connect with their favorite artists, that means the world to me because I grew up listening to people like [Kanye]. When I first heard 'Ye's "Roses," that opened up a side of 'Ye for me that I'd never heard before and that just like taught me so much more about him and made me love him as an artist 10 times more than I could of than if he made another hit song.
Subconsciously, what I did with 'Dr. Whoever' for fans is the same thing that 'Roses' did for me. It's more so telling a situation in your life and completely being honest because there's so much shit that fans get to see. If you look on my Instagram, you see all smiles and all the fun stuff that me and my friends are doing and all the tours and albums and stuff, but at the end of the day, people forget that we're human and everybody got problems. I know people say, 'Oh, you're famous. You asked for this,' or 'What do you have to complain about,' but honestly that's kind of why artists remain quiet about their mental health or keep quiet about the bad shit that's going on in their lives because they don't wanna seem like they're complaining to the world about something that no one cares about or will care about. We just never know, and you don't wanna seem ungrateful.
Is there a record or album besides Kanye West's "Roses" that you deem therapeutic for you when you're in a rut or down on yourself?
Either Late Registration or Friday Night Lights by J. Cole. That was something me and my friends grew up on in high school. I was like 14, 15 years old on the bus everyday listening to Late Registration or Friday Night Lights. When I'm in the house and I just wanna escape or I’m cleaning, I'm always listening to Musiq Soulchild's Aijuswanaseing.
How important has it been for you to be around your day-one friends, especially during those moments when life got a bit crazy for you and you were under a lot of stress?
I don't know what it is because it's not like I'm purposely keeping them around or whatever, it's just that they're more so my good, good best friends. I even talk about my best friend getting married in "Dr. Whoever" a couple of months ago and for me, keeping them around has never been intentionally, it's just more so we have a connection and a brotherly kind of love. They keep me grounded. I don't know, my best friends don't really work for me or don't do anything like that. My best friends be around and they have their own careers, but they are the ones that are always honest with me and they're the ones that get to hear my music first before it's released. I'll always get their honest opinions and if they're loving the songs then I know that's the one. I played "Dr. Whoever" and "Reel It In " and they said those two were their favorites. Their opinions matter to me more than the world and people I don't even know.
If you’re not sure how to reach out to a friend and have a conversation about their mental health, visit SeizeTheAwkward.org for tips and resources that can help start and continue the conversation.