This Sunday (Sept. 8) during a two-hour, commercial-free broadcast on Entercom radio stations, a diverse array of artists — Shawn Mendes, Lizzo, Halsey, Skillet, Blink-182, Tegan & Sara, Michael Ray and Disturbed — are speaking out in order to raise awareness around mental health. The ‘I’m Listening’ live broadcast, which marks the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week, will span more than 235 stations as well as live stream on Radio.com.
“The title track to our new album Victorious was influenced by Chester Bennington,” Skillet’s John Cooper tells Billboard of their involvement in the event. “I was really down after he died by suicide and I spent significant time researching depression online. The lyrics on this song in particular… I wanted to help anyone who may have felt similar feelings – and send a message of hope. As a band we’ve always been about motivational messages. And now we’re eager to carry that message beyond Entercom’s awesome rock stations — but to ALL of their radio stations and digital platforms in the country through their ‘I’m Listening’ initiative. We never got to tour with Linkin Park, but I hope ‘Victorious’ will #MakeChesterProud.”
“Mental health and suicide prevention is a year-round initiative at Entercom and we are doing our part to end the stigma by encouraging people to talk,” says Pat Paxton, chief programming officer, Entercom, “Like millions of others, my family has been impacted by mental health issues and the effect it has on friends and families is devastating. ‘I’m Listening’ is when our vast network of radio stations and digital platforms unite on the same day, at the same time, to ultimately save lives. If we help just one person, our time will have been well spent.”
“I think issues around identity and mental health are intrinsically linked,” said Sara Quin from Tegan and Sara in a statement about mental health and discrimination in the LGBTQ community. “It makes sense to me now, that if I don’t talk about my feelings, I’m not going to feel well, I’m not going to be well. Through the work that we do with The Tegan and Sara Foundation, and some of the staggering statistics surrounding queer people and mental health, we hope that by talking about some of our experiences as young people, that it will encourage others to do the same.”
Seattle radio personality BJ Shea will lead the special along with Dr. Ursula Whiteside, chief executive officer at NowMattersNow.org. In addition to musicians, the show will feature personal stories from mental health professionals, first-responders and athletes, including NFL players Solomon Thomas and Chris Hubbard. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)’s chief medical officer Dr. Christine Moutier is also a guest.
Listeners can call-in live — the broadcast begins at 7 a.m. on Sept. 8 — and participate via an interactive website. For more information about the campaign, visit ImListening.org. If someone you know is going through a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.