One of my favorite bands, Frightened Rabbit, put out a social media post a few days ago asking people to keep an eye open for their lead singer, Scott Hutchison:

Knowing a bit about Hutchison’s struggles with depression and anxiety—struggles he’s been pretty transparent and public about—I feared the worst, but hoped for the best. Over the next couple of days they kept tweeting out pleas for help and any available for information. Then they released a screenshot of security video footage from a hotel that he checked into. Finally, this morning, I woke up to this tweet:

I’m pretty devastated. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Scott Hutchison was a hero of mine, but his words and his music have definitely made an impact on me. Frightened Rabbit’s last album, in particular—Painting of a Panic Attack—really helped to carry me through 2016 and 2017—two particularly dark, difficult, and painful years in my life.

As I’ve written about on this blog (after Robin Williams committed suicide, coincidentally) I, too, wrestle with depression and anxiety. I, too, have contemplated suicide. And so it’s always painful to hear about people whom I have a great deal of respect for being overtaken by their depression and ending their own lives. It makes me very reflective, and consider my own mental health. It makes me very emotional and a little unstable for days at a time.

But one thing that shines through this incredible sadness is that, both through Frightened Rabbit’s music and through his own acts, Scott Hutchison was a guy who did everything he could to help others. In addition to Frightened Rabbit, Master System, and Owl John, Hutchison was also part of the Fruit Tree Foundation, an independent project, started in Scotland and led by Rod Jones and Emma Pollock, with the aim of raising awareness of mental health problems and addressing the preconceptions that are often associated with mental ill health.

Their first project was to pull together a collection of great musicians from the folk and indie scene and create an album of collaborations that loosely explored themes of childhood, mental health and well-being as well as the confrontation of common stereotypes.

The album was called ‘First Edition’ and Scott’s is the first voice heard on that record ahead of the opening song ‘Splinter’, which he performed with the Twilight Sad’s James Graham.

The Fruit Tree Foundation worked in partnership with several organisations including: the Mental Health Foundation—a leading UK mental health charity that conducts robust research, provides practical solutions to help everyone lead mentally healthier lives, and works to raise public awareness and improve mental health services for the entire population—and Breathing Space—a free, confidential phone and web based service for people experiencing low mood or depression in Scotland.

In an interview conducted last May, Scott said he was learning more about mental health and asking for help.

He said: “I’m an evangelist now for getting help. If anything, it takes a much more aware person to go, ‘I can’t deal with this on my own.’ But the tendency is to feel shame, and to feel like you’re failing. Something that admittedly I’ve only in the last year got to grips with is that a depressed person is not themselves. It’s not as easy as just pulling up your socks and getting on with life. I think people don’t really see it in that medical way as much as they do a heart condition or arthritis or anything that causes pain.”

I’ve benefited from his evangelism. I’ve benefited from his openness. I’m devastated about his passing, but he left us with some lyrics that we can still look to and hold onto; none, in my opinion, as poignant and beautiful as the words of his song, “Still Want to Be Here.”

The perfect place may never exist, may never exist
The perfect time might be years and years away
The city is overweight and it’s pressing on the pair of us
We scowl and sweat beneath the overbearing crush
But I still want to be here, want to be here
I still want to be here, want to be here
And I would live in a devil’s ditch just to be near you
I still want to be here, want to be here
There is shit all over the street outside our house now
Junk fiends dance at the bus stop next to the rodeo clowns
Nowhere to run, so we hide like mislaid infants
Fuck these faceless homes and everyone who lives in them
But I still want to be here, want to be here
I still want to be here, want to be here
And I would live in a shallow pit just to be near you
I still want to be here
I still want to be here, want to be here
I still want to be here, want to be here
And I would live in a devil’s ditch just to be near you
I still want to be here

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