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Fleet Foxes Frontman Speaks Out About Coping with Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide is a growing public health crisis nationwide. In the past week alone, the world has lost Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to mental health struggles, and last night, Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold spoke out about his own challenges with suicidal thoughts. Writing on Instagram, Pecknold clarified earlier comments that some saw as “unsympathetic toward the mentally ill or suicidal.”

“During a period of a few years ago when I was dangerously and actively suicidal, my respect for my loved ones and my knowledge of the pain I would cause them was, truly and with no overstatement, the only effective thought I had at my disposal to prevent myself from acting,” he writes. “I have nothing but empathy for anyone struggling, and I really hope people get the help they need, and that we all make ourselves available to those close to us who need us.”

If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org to chat with someone live online. Read Pecknold’s full statement below.

I’ll try this again: in thinking about the deaths of Bourdain and Spade, I made a post earlier today about suicide and mental health. Some comments felt I was being unsympathetic towards the mentally ill or suicidal, so I’d like to rephrase and provide more context for what I was trying to say.

During a period a few years ago when I was dangerously and actively suicidal, my respect for my loved ones and my knowledge of the pain I would cause them was, truly and with no overstatement, the only effective thought I had at my disposal to prevent myself from acting.

I was not saying suicide is selfish in my post. I don’t believe that. I can’t know firsthand another’s interiority, and I also have never had personal experience with a friend or loved one suffering from a truly debilitating psychological disorder. I was not speaking for all who struggle with mental health, just relaying my own lessons and conclusions following years of unwanted destructive mental activity, consistent therapy, medication, and active concerted effort towards self knowledge and education.

The reason it makes me uncomfortable to see suicide lionized is because suicide has been an at-many-times daily part of my psychic reality, even still. It follows me around. When artists are made legends through suicide, I know that some segment of the impressionable population internalizes this as justification for the act. I know this because I have overcome this exact delusion.

It makes me uncomfortable being more explicit, but some of the feedback made me feel the need… I am definitely unqualified to discuss the mental health of others, but it follows that so too is anyone else unqualified to judge my psychic reality and assume that this has not been an unwelcome and pernicious facet of my own lived experience, one that I’ve devoted much effort and resources towards addressing. I can say I took a break between albums to “go back to school” in interviews, but that isn’t the whole story.

I have nothing but empathy for anyone struggling, and I really hope people get the help they need, and that we all make ourselves available to those close to us who need us.

I’ll try this again: in thinking about the deaths of Bourdain and Spade, I made a post earlier today about suicide and mental health. Some comments felt I was being unsympathetic towards the mentally ill or suicidal, so I’d like to rephrase and provide more context for what I was trying to say. During a period a few years ago when I was dangerously and actively suicidal, my respect for my loved ones and my knowledge of the pain I would cause them was, truly and with no overstatement, the only effective thought I had at my disposal to prevent myself from acting. I was not saying suicide is selfish in my post. I don’t believe that. I can’t know firsthand another’s interiority, and I also have never had personal experience with a friend or loved one suffering from a truly debilitating psychological disorder. I was not speaking for all who struggle with mental health, just relaying my own lessons and conclusions following years of unwanted destructive mental activity, consistent therapy, medication, and active concerted effort towards self knowledge and education. The reason it makes me uncomfortable to see suicide lionized is because suicide has been an at-many-times daily part of my psychic reality, even still. It follows me around. When artists are made legends through suicide, I know that some segment of the impressionable population internalizes this as justification for the act. I know this because I have overcome this exact delusion. It makes me uncomfortable being more explicit, but some of the feedback made me feel the need… I am definitely unqualified to discuss the mental health of others, but it follows that so too is anyone else unqualified to judge my psychic reality and assume that this has not been an unwelcome and pernicious facet of my own lived experience, one that I’ve devoted much effort and resources towards addressing. I can say I took a break between albums to “go back to school” in interviews, but that isn’t the whole story. I have nothing but empathy for anyone struggling, and I really hope people get the help they need, and that we all make ourselves available to those close to us who need us.

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