The foundation, established by Wallace back in April, strives to launch programs that compassionately address addiction, anxiety and depression; normalize the conversation around these issues, especially in underserved communities; and create programs that help people find positive avenues to process their mental health challenges just like the beloved rapper did with his music.
The website comes less than a year after Juice WRLD (real name Jarad Higgins) died at the age of 21 due to an accidental overdose.
In celebration of the new website, Wallace penned a poignant open letter on her experience as a loving mother of a child who struggled with mental health, and how she hopes other parents can feel inspired by her words, and learn that “you do not have to suffer alone.”
“If we can help even one Mother and their son or daughter through our work here, Jarad’s death will have meaning and his positive, loving, creative spirit will endure,” she wrote.
Read it in full below.
Jarad and I were always close. We liked to play pinball together. We had long conversations about his future and about the world in general. But like any mother and son, we had our issues. Jarad came from a family where academics were the highest priority, so I wanted him to focus on school, but he was always more interested in music. His teachers would often tell me that he was extremely gifted, but that he was always focused on his music. I’d often find him in the studio in the afternoon, pursuing his dream. He was laser-focused. In the end, Jarad won the battle and I agreed to let him take a year off after high school to work on his own music and his vision as Juice WRLD. When his career took off, I left my job in quality management to join his team. Jarad recorded music every day, in every city he found himself in. He amassed literally hundreds and hundreds of songs. The lyrics and melodies all made from his beautiful mind.
Jarad and I often had frank discussions about his struggles with addiction, anxiety and depression. I think he felt comfortable being honest with me because I never judged him. I recognized that what Jarad was dealing with was a disease and I know he truly wanted to be free from the demons that tormented him. As a parent, I believed early on and supported Jarad having access to counseling. I encouraged him to always share his feelings.
I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love following the loss of my son. His loving spirit which is communicated through his music has touched so many people. I launched Live Free 999 so that perhaps his death could mean something for other mothers whose sons and daughters are dealing with the same kinds of issues that my son struggled with.
My message to the parents and children is simple. You do not have to suffer alone. You do not have to be ashamed of your mental health struggles. There is help. There is a way out.
On Mental Health Day 2020, I have launched a new website www.livefree999.org in the hopes that it will be a resource to those that are struggling. If we can help even one Mother and their son or daughter through our work here, Jarad’s death will have meaning and his positive, loving, creative spirit will endure.
Ms. Carmela Wallace