In early March, singer-songwriter Brian Byrne, perhaps best known as the vocalist for Canadian rock band I Mother Earth as well as for a pair of solo releases, released his single “Arizona (I Miss You Most)”.
This was no ordinary single release, however. All proceeds from the download of the song directly support Collateral Damage, a Canadian suicide prevention and awareness group founded by Scott Chisholm who lost his father to suicide when he was just 17 years old.
Suicide takes the lives of more Canadian men than prostate cancer and is the second leading cause of death among young people. If you would like more information on The Arizona Project, please visit www.imissyoumost.com.
Brian Byrne spoke with The MusicNerd Chronicles about opening up the conversation and perception around mental illness.
There seems to be more attention than ever being drawn to the complexities that surround mental illness. Do you feel that it is something that more people are comfortable talking about?
To steal a page from Lenny Bruce, I am a firm believer that the more times we use a word, the less power is it has. I think that the tide is turning, yes, but I still also feel that it still seems to be the elephant in the room. Mental illness doesn’t kill anybody, it is where things lead that takes people from us too soon. More people than would ever care to admit have dark, depressing thoughts. It is reassuring them that they are not the only people feeling that way that is important.
Over the last few years, we have seen a number of high profile cases of online bullying, which has in turn led to the suicide of people feeling they have nowhere to turn. How do you feel this tide is best stemmed?
Earlier this year, as I was trying to talk someone through something, someone on Facebook bullied me. Obviously, I can understand that I would be a target to a certain extent but just don’t get why someone would want to hate on me or anyone else for that matter. I think that many people have a false sense of bravery in doing their bullying behind a keyboard or whatever. I focus on being a positive person. I look at my kids and wonder not if, but when they will be bullied. I think everyone should be equipped with every bit of ammunition they can have to just walk away from the situation.