JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford has emphasized the importance of trying to end the stigma connected to talking about mental health.
Halford made his comments while discussing the recent deaths of fellow musicians Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington and Keith Flint, all of whom took their own lives after battling substance abuse and depression.
Acknowledging that being a touring musician is a lifestyle which can leave individuals more exposed to mental health problems, Halford told Australia's Wall Of Sound in a recent interview (see video below): "We have to keep talking about this, because here's the thing with this type of situation… When we lose our dear friends, we always hear the story, 'Well, they were fine. They had a great show and said 'see you tomorrow' on the bus, and they're gone.
"It's an incredibly difficult thing to try to focus in and try to figure out what's going on in somebody's head," he continued. "The only thing you can do is love each other and support each other and just see if there are any kind of telltale signals. And there generally is something somewhere in the mix that's just gone by you in what happens in a day. But it's awful.
"Rock and roll, creative people, it's just this terrible, terrible thing that just doesn't seem to go away. But what is good is that these days now, it's being discussed more openly. It used to be, 'Oh, you're depressed. Pull your boots up and get out there.' You can't do that. You've gotta try and help the person.
"Each of us deals with it in our own way," Halford added. "I will say for myself, when I stopped drinking and drugging 33 years ago, that was the best thing I could have done for myself. 'Cause a lot of the decisions you make yourself in those particular areas, because that's a physical transition, the mental transition is incredibly difficult to do. I mean, even now, I work through the day. Personally, I work through the day. I've got my own little tools to get me through the day. 'Cause it never leaves you when you're a drug addict and an alcoholic, which is what I am. That's what I am. And we should stop trying to push that out of the way: 'You've recovered from that.' Well, it's a lie. You live with it, you deal with it, and you do whatever you've gotta do to get through each day, one day at a time. But the mental side of it is very difficult.
"I know for a fact that there are outlets instantly where you can reach to. It's on the Internet. Just sending a text to somebody, staying in touch, looking after each other, seeing how you mate is doing. 'You haven't called me for a couple of days. Is everything all right?' An e-mail. Anything. It's reaching out, it's staying with each other, having each other's backs, as the expression goes, and trying to do what you can."
Flint, Cornell and Bennington all tragically took their own lives in the space of just 22 months.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 2016 marked a 30-year high suicide rate in the U.S., with more than 13 deaths per 100,000 people.