The power of music couldn’t be more evident than this past Saturday, when some of the biggest names in entertainment spanning more than three decades came out to support Audacy’s 9th Annual We Can Survive Night at Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
Headlining acts Alanis Morissette, Halsey, Garbage, OneRepublic, Weezer and Tate McRae took to the stage to perform their many chart-topping hits to a large crowd of music-loving fans. With mental health as a leading theme and driving force, the benefit raised over $750,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Founded in 1987 and currently the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, I asked AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia what it means for him and his team to have a platform like We Can Survive being adopted by the public in 2022 d. “I can tell you, we were founded by some researchers from New York who wanted to do more suicide research,” Gebbia continues. “Some families who lost loved ones in New York 35 years ago who were brave enough to say, ‘We have to do more.’ They couldn’t imagine this event because no one wanted to talk about it [suicide] 35 years ago.”
I followed up by asking Gebbia what the greatest meaning and impact is in having these popular music artists support AFSP’s ongoing mission. “It means everything to us because what happens is people listen to the people they follow, whether it’s artists, athletes — and when they say, ‘I struggled and I got help.’ Everything is fine. It’s a message that gets across better than we can. Music is a big part of that.”
Shirley Manson, lead singer of the 1990s rock band Garbage and a longtime advocate for mental health issues, spoke openly with me about her own struggles. “I’m a fragile, confused person,” Manson reveals. “I haven’t functioned very well in society for most of my life. I understand what it’s like to be dark. I understand what it feels like to suffer from depression and low self-esteem, and these are things I am well versed in. I feel like, in a funny way, we as a group have been a great vessel for expressing things that are often said in our society.”
With hit songs like “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains” over the years, I asked Manson and her Garbage bandmates how they balance their many business commitments in the growing music industry while also making time to take care of their own souls. health.
Manson laughs, “Well, that’s what we guess we balanced.” Garbage drummer Butch Vig continues, saying, “We’re not that well balanced. One of the important things with mental health is that when someone is spiraling downward, it’s important to talk and start a dialogue. One of the reasons we’re still together after almost 30 years is that we love each other, but we communicate and talk and it’s not always easy. We get into arguments, but it has a healthy aspect that is good for us and nourishes us in a way. It keeps us together as a group.”
Susan Larkin, COO at Audacy, a leading multi-platform audio content platform, discussed with me the growing need to expand support and mental health services available to the public today. “Unfortunately there are a lot of people dying by suicide and we’re seeing post-Covid that’s getting really much bigger,” Larkin continues. “So it’s really important now, especially for young people. Shirley Manson just talked about this and how important it is to get this message out. We’ve raised $1.5 million over the past two years for AFSP, and we hope the conversation saves lives.
Knowing that Manson continues to face his mental health issues head-on, I wondered what advice she might have for others who may find themselves quietly struggling with their own internal struggles and unsure of where to turn for help. help.
“Calling someone is paramount,” says Manson. “Talk to your boyfriend, talk to a lover, talk to your wife, your husband, whatever, sister, talk to a stranger on the helpline. I think the problem with mental health is that you can feel incredibly desperate. Then if someone talks to you for a few hours, you’ll suddenly go through 24 [hours] and things look a little different the next day. You can really get into a pool of despair, and I think that’s the catch that we all really have to advocate for, is when you can pick someone up and stop them from really going over the edge.”
I ended my conversation with Manson and Garbage by asking them what it means to them to know that their songs, over the course of nearly three decades, continue to be a source of comfort to music listeners.
Manson replies, “I love him. It’s the best thing we can do as a group.” Vig concludes by saying, “We’ve had countless times where fans come in and say they’re spiraling down or they’re having a relationship problem or a job or whatever and they’ve hit rock bottom and then a Garbage song or album pulls them through from the abyss and back into the light. It means a lot to us when we hear stories like this.”