Nick's Picks: Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
Saturday, November 18 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day—a day when people affected by suicide loss can come together to find comfort and gain understanding by sharing stories of healing and hope.
Nearly 44,000 Americans die from suicide each year, making it the tenth most common cause of death in the United States. Despite its omnipresence, suicide and mental health issues in general are still treated as taboo, a fact that can only be changed by increased conversation and education.
With firsthand experience dealing with suicide loss, local musician, producer, and mental health advocate Greg Best is doing his part to encourage discussion and end this stigma.
Born and raised in Rochester, Best, 28, looks like the prototypical punk-rocker: spindly and tattooed, with a thick beard, earrings, and a leather jacket. Best has the look down; he also has the sound to go with it. He’s helped artists from across the country as a studio drummer and songwriter. He also makes music, which he describes as ambient post-rock, under his own name.
Best’s next EP, Homecoming, will focus on mental health and depression. Homecoming will serve as a resource to those unfamiliar with depression as well as a place where people suffering with mental health issues can find solace. A percentage of all proceeds from Homecoming will go to suicide prevention organizations.
“Homecoming would apply to anyone dealing with mental health challenges; it’s really the story I’m going through, through my own eyes,” says Best.
Part of Best’s passion for mental health advocacy comes from a span of time in which his friend, a cousin, and his former college professor all died from suicide.
“I can remember the exact moment when I found out with each of them," he says. "When you get that news it feels like everything around you crumbles.”
Best’s mission to educate others about suicide prevention continued with the recent passing of Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington.
“I grew up listening to Linkin Park; that was the band that I always turned to when I was going through it hard, that was the band that always got me through it.” he says.
Best, along with other Rochester area artists, collaborated to make a tribute video to Bennington and raise awareness for suicide prevention.
“That video represents a community being there for each other, it shows that this is hard, and that’s okay.” he says.
Best also has his own personal battle with depression, a condition that he has dealt with for as long as he can remember. “Depression is a mess and it’s hard to deal with, there are moments when you think that you’ve found yourself, and then those feelings are fleeting sometimes,” he says.
While suffering through the worst parts of the condition for years, Best has recently been able to get a handle on his depression, in large part due to his own education on the topic.
“Part of getting better is recognition; it’s taken years to realize that,” says Best. “I recognize that I'm here; I just have to know this is a low and this is going to happen and I’m going to feel this and it's going to be terrible and I’m going to make it, and it's awful, but it's possible to keep going.”
Along with education, Best also states that music is key to combating low moods.
"Music has been the ultimate weapon against depression, because it forces me out—it forces me to connect with humanity,” says Best. “A couple weeks ago, I played at the Bug Jar, and I was having a rough day the entire day; I played and then sat at the bar with people I didn’t know and just talked to them because they felt like they could connect with me because of the music, and we just chilled out and had drinks and talked about real things. That’s why music is like magic to me.”
For other people suffering from depression, Best suggests finding their own release.
“Whatever it is, whatever helps you, you have to do it, it's going to be helpful, and you’re going to keep getting it out, and you’re going to keep getting better,” he says. “You just have to picture it like you ate something bad. You just have to get it out and it sucks but it's worth it.”
To find more information on suicide prevention, warning signs, and risk factors, visit afsp.org/about-suicide.
For Rochesterians who have lost someone to suicide, a Survivors Day event will be held at the Arthur Kornberg Medical Research Building, this Saturday, November 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to event organizer Karen Heisig, the event will include discussion, advice, and events aimed to promote healing. Advance registration is encouraged.
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