Years ago, I knew a young woman who was thinking about taking her own life. I sensed something was wrong, just by observing small mannerisms and her overall behavior. Something had changed. So I reached out to her, and asked her if she needed help or wanted to talk to someone. It was not easy – she didn’t want to share – but eventually she opened up about her depression, her anxiety and her belief (in her words) that she was “just an ordinary girl, and would not be missed.” After a lot of talking, and encouraging her to see a therapist, her outlook changed, and she was able to overcome this very dark time period in her life.
I’m a musician, and I wrote a song about this, years ago, called “Ordinary Girl.” The song grapples with some of the specific thoughts, feelings and emotions she was experiencing:
I’m just an Ordinary, Ordinary Girl,
The kind that’s short on time, living in this world.
I’m just and Ordinary, Ordinary Girl,
Can’t find my place, no need to stay.
Later in the song, I reveal that that “character” indeed decides to stick around.
Ordinary Girl sat “in the can” as a demo for over a decade. Until this year.
In late 2019, my community tragically lost a young woman to suicide who had been an employee at one of the venues I perform at, RockHouse Live. It was shocking, heartbreaking, and devastating. We all knew that she may have been going through some things, and there were people around her who tried to help, in their own way. But no one expected this tragic end to this poor 28-year-old woman.
Shortly after she passed away, we held a benefit for suicide awareness, called “Don’t Let Your Song Fade Away.” We invited expert speakers from around the community, as well as those who have been in dark places, and those who have lost loved ones. This really opened my eyes to how big of an issue this really is. Suicide is currently the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S.
And then, the pandemic hit. Life as we knew it ground to a halt. Normally, I am busy with my career as CEO of a music technology company called VNUE that focuses on live music. Our company was due to go out and record shows with the superstar pop rock band Matchbox Twenty this past summer, but that was called off. Everything was called off. I found myself with a lot of time on my hands and a lot of thoughts to process.
I started thinking about my song again.
I decided there was no better time to finish “Ordinary Girl,” as well as other songs that had been in the can. Many industry professionals suddenly had more free time, so I enlisted some of my friends and colleagues to help me produce an EP, which also ended up being titled “Ordinary Girl.”
The song was released September 1, along with the official video shortly afterward. Since that time, I have given numerous interviews about the song and its meaning. I ran across the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention through a legendary radio personality who was interviewing me in NYC, Zach Martin. He immediately recognized that this was a subject that I care deeply about, and he put me in contact with AFSP. I decided to donate 20% of the proceeds from all downloads or streams of the EP to their work. I also became much more vocal about suicide prevention, and I have been ever since.
The most important message I have been conveying is that we all need to be observant of our friends, family, and others in our lives. We should learn the common risk factors for suicide, learn to trust our guts, and pay attention to the small signs you don’t really notice unless you look for them. We should reach out and learn how to have a #RealConvo about mental health and suicide, even if it takes us out of our (or their) immediate comfort zones – because the alternative could be that they don’t get help.
My message for anyone who may be in a deep depression, or thinking about suicide, is that you do have people who love you and want to be there for you. Even if you haven’t met them – people care! I’ve also learned that someone experiencing a suicidal crisis literally doesn’t have access to their normal coping abilities, on a cognitive level. Help is always available, and organizations like the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and the Crisis Text Line, are available 24/7. Your life is precious, no matter how “ordinary” you think you are.