An old habit of mine is when I’m sad or deep in thought I listen to the same song over and over. I’m sure many people do it. I’ve done it for years.
This morning I found out about the passing of Scott Hutchinson, the lead singer of ‘Frightened Rabbit’. He apparently took his own life; the result of a lifetime of struggle with mental illness.
The news has caught me completely off guard. It’s completely heartbreaking anytime someone has reached a point where they feel their only comfort is suicide. For me, this news is especially sad because of the significance of Scott’s music to my own life.
I went through a brutally bad breakup in 2014. The pain of it still lingers in some ways, but back then, it was debilitating. I couldn’t shake it no matter how hard I tried.
One day, more than 4 months after the breakup, I was just finishing folding some laundry and listening to music in my living room, when the song ‘Poke’ by Frightened Rabbit started playing on my stereo. I didn’t think much about it for the first few lines, but as I got up to take my clothes to my bedroom, the world just stopped.
The basket and I made it to the kitchen, when I just froze and broke down again. The first time in weeks. I cried so hard, but this time was different. This was an angry, bottomless cry. It came from somewhere I didn’t know existed and had a life of its own.
I threw the basket of clothes down the hall. I punched the pantry door. I punched the cupboards. And then I just let the sadness pour out for the entirety of the song. Each lyric brought with it a very personal meaning and a series of tears .
After the song, I called my parents, still crying. And the words that came out of my mom’s mouth will live with me forever and still tug at me today. “Jacob, that may have been the worst day of your life, but it was also the best day.”.
Those words still echo in my head from time to time because of how correct she was. After hearing them I turned my thinking around and just busted my ass to finish my dissertation and found an incredible job, career, and passion that I still have today. In other words, that moment changed my life, in part because I had someone to talk to.
I’m so saddened that Scott couldn’t find that comfort in his life and experience a similar turn around. If anyone knows anyone who might be showing the signs of severe mental illness, reach out to them. Let them know at least one person is willing to listen and to ease the load off their shoulders, even if it’s just a few ounces. That might make all the difference. It could jump start a new beginning.
RIP Scott Hutchinson
‘Life is cruel and it’s clumsy save its very best moments’