What happened to Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison doesn't have to happen again.
36-year-old singer-songwriter Scott Hutchison went missing late in the night of May 8, 2018. Around 48 hours later, his body was found.
Just before his disappearance, Hutchison, who sang in Scottish indie-rock band Frightened Rabbit, posted two cryptic messages to his Twitter account.
"Be so good to everyone you love. It's not a given. I'm so annoyed that it's not. I didn't live by that standard and it kills me. Please, hug your loved ones," read one of the messages. "I'm away now. Thanks," he followed up minutes later.
While his death hasn't been officially ruled a suicide, it seems likely based on statements from his family and bandmates.
"There are no words to describe the overwhelming sadness and pain that comes with the death of our beloved Scott," Hutchison's bandmates posted in a statement to Twitter on May 11.
His family wrote:
"We are utterly devastated with the tragic loss of our beloved Scott. Despite his disappearance, and the recent concerns over his mental health, we had all remained positive and hopeful that he would walk back through the door. He was passionate, articulate and charismatic, as well as being one of the funniest and kindest people we knew. In addition to his musical success, Scott was a wonderful son, brother, uncle and friend. Despite whatever else was going on in his life he always had time for those he cared for."
Hutchison was fairly open about what he called his "mental torment" both in interviews and in his art.
Frightened Rabbit's 2016 album "Painting of a Panic Attack" dealt with some dark themes, touching on mental illness and suicide. In an interview around the time of the album's release, Hutchison described life as "a series of extreme highs and very dark lows."
"I was given a very stark reminder of that when I started having anxiety attacks," he said in the interview. "I've always felt the physical nature of love and loss quite strongly, and known that pain can be a physical manifestation of anger or anxiety; but I'd never felt my brain completely taking over my body before, and that was a very odd thing."
Hutchison performs at a 2010 concert. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.
There's a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness, especially when it comes to the arts. Singer Geoff Rickly hopes we can have an important conversation before another tragedy like this strikes.
"Whenever we lose an artist (of any stature) to depression or drug use, (or eating disorders, bipolar, etc. etc.) I wonder: when will we, finally, remove the stigma in talking about mental healthcare???" Rickly tweeted.
For more than two decades, Rickly has been involved in one way or another with the world of music, having sung in rock bands No Devotion, United Nations, and most notably, Thursday. In a conversation via direct messages on Twitter, he expanded a bit on what he meant in his tweet.
"From my own personal experience, substance abuse is rampant in the arts. For example, the members of Thursday would speak about any band that didn't have to deal with at least one member needing help with substance abuse as lucky — as the exception," he says, citing the unstable environment of an artist's life as well as easy access to drugs as catalysts for addiction.
Rickly performs with Thursday in 2012. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.
After he turned 30, Rickly developed a heroin addiction. Despite his best efforts, it took him years to get clean again.
"Lacking a real healthcare plan did me few favors," he continues. "But lack of healthcare is very common in the arts. We've seen more than a few tours halted or cancelled due to mental health crises within one of the bands on the tour. And then there's always talk of how to hush things up so that the member can have privacy (which of course I support). But let's say that the occurrence of mental health crises on tour is much more common than most would guess."
Pride can get in the way of finding help, but there's ways through this.
"I think mental health is still a source of great shame for most people," Rickly adds. "Implying that there is anything wrong with their mind is still often considered an insult. For artists, I think there's a sense that we don't have much (money, material success) but the one beautiful thing that we get as an artist is a state of mind, a high level of imagination and a lot of time to explore it. If you devalue that, by saying our thinking is sick, it takes away from the one thing we have of any value. Or it can feel that way."
To fight this, Rickly is working on a podcast he hopes to launch later this year in which he'll try to have some of these difficult but necessary discussions with other artists. What happened to Hutchison was an absolute tragedy, but it doesn't have to happen again.
We can all fight the stigma of mental illness, and there are absolutely things we can do to help others we think might be at risk.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline lists a number of extremely helpful things you can do if you suspect a friend or family member might be suicidal. You can also call the Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 for a list of local resources in the event that you, a friend, or a family member are suicidal.