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Ode to Lil Peep and the trials of mental illness

Nov. 21, 2017
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I was invited by a friend to see the artist Lil Peep live in L.A. this week. I was excited by this prospect. I found out on November 16th that he was pronounced dead the night before on his tour bus in Tucson, AZ.   

This hit especially close to home for me due to the fact that I lived in Tucson for a large part of my life. I couldn’t believe the posts I was seeing; I truly thought it was some sort of hoax. When I Googled his death, I found out something I hadn’t realized: Lil Peep was only 21 years of age—the same age as me. 

All of the information I read left me with an eerie feeling. As of right now, the report is saying he died of a Xanax overdose. I am currently taking a similar type of medication. I was prescribed a controlled substance in the family of Xanax to help me cope with my severe generalized anxiety. 

I cringe reading articles that say, "Let this be a lesson to drug abusers." I think it is unfair to label Lil Peep as a demonized drug consumer. This is a mental health issue—not a "sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll" trip gone wrong. Lil Peep has been crying for help in his lyrics forever. The artist has songs titled "Pray I Die", "Better Off (Dying)", and "Drugz". That last song bears the lyrics: "Only do it for the pain, it be fucking up my brain." 

His entire career, it was clear that Lil Peep was a severely pained individual who coped by channeling his suffering into art. He was willing to wear his heart on his sleeve and lay himself out in a fully transparent form.

For once, I would love to see the death of a young celebrity as something other than a "lesson to teens" or "proof of what drugs will do to a person". The lesson to be learned here is that mental illness is a serious issue. Mental illness and instability has heightened in the age group surrounding that of mine and Lil Peep’s. There is far more mental and emotional struggle than in former generations.

Sure, we can talk about the abuse of drugs when mentioning Lil Peep, but do not forget to headline the conversation with a frank look at mental illness and severe depression. I have turned to plenty of unhealthy vices in my journey of depression and suicidal ideation, and I have close friends whose unhealthy coping mechanisms differ from mine. But if Lil Peep can die, any young adult struggling with mental health can die. A thought has been cycling through my head since his death: That could have been me. On a bad day, at the wrong time, and with one too many pills of anti-anxiety medication, even a good girl who attended private school could die the death of Lil Peep. 

I hope the death of this talented and vulnerable artist can teach us a lesson about being open. I hope this death causes us to check in on our friends on a regular basis. I hope this loss of life gives us the motivation to seek the professional help we need. I hope this tragedy does not become another statistic of fallen stars. Most of all, though, I hope Lil Peep can be honored as a fighter who went down in battle too early.