How we mistakenly label the mentally ill as toxic and inconveniences. by Amy Ouzoonian
Mental health awareness month started off feeling almost healthy this year. Even if you weren't following the hashtags #selfcare and #mentalhealthhacks, you were bound to see at least one mental health meme that showed love and support for people who experience anxiety and are treated for depression. More and more it seems that the world is having compassion for people who suffer from mental illness. So, I was surprised when my friend, beloved Phoenix-born and raised musician, Andy Warpigs, passed away suddenly on May 30th and the cause of his death was not made known immediately. The Phoenix New Times has done two feature articles talking about what a great influence Andy was. Andy was an amazing DIY folk punk musician and advocate for inclusion in the art scene. He was also my friend.
"And the only thing they cared about more than creativity was inclusion; they just wanted everyone to take equal part in the good time and have equal space in making it happen."
- Jeff Schaer-Moses Phoenix New Times 6/1/2021
All of what the friends, family, and online news articles say is true, but there was also another side to Warpigs that he would have wanted people to talk about as well, because he was not shy about sharing about his depression and drug use. I am pretty confident that if Warpigs was alive right now, he'd also let you all know exactly how he died and he wouldn't feel shame for it. He wouldn't say that it was a "supposed accidental overdose." Only he knows exactly what happened. I spoke with his mother, Lynn Johnson, recently and she shared with me that the reason for his death hasn't been confirmed yet and so she didn't want to share that yet. That makes sense, but often death by suicide or overdose isn't shared publicly. Why? Suicide and addiction are public health issues. So, why do we make people who are struggling with these issues feel like they should suffer in private?