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.

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Comedy legend Carol Burnett once said, "Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head." She wasn't joking.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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