Music Stars Speak Out About Mental Health and Suicide in New PSAs

Aminé, Kiyoko, Perri, Sterling star in Ad Council effort

Suicide ranks as the second-leading cause of death among teens and young adults. But reaching out to friends and family members who seem depressed or troubled can help avert tragedy. 

New PSAs featuring music stars Aminé, Hayley Kiyoko, Christina Perri and Lindsay Sterling make that point in an earnest, relaxed style, urging 16- to 24-year-olds to talk about mental health with their friends. 

Portal A developed the campaign as part of the Ad Council's "Seize the Awkward" campaign, devised with the JED Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In a series of spots, the musicians relate stories from their personal experience. They stress that bad thoughts fester in silence, isolation and apathy. Sometimes, starting conversations and showing empathy are all it takes to pull someone back from the brink. 

All four stars appear in the anthem spot below, which focuses on discussing mental health and depression with loved ones:

In four other videos, each artist goes solo.

Aminé notes that even celebrities feel down sometimes, but "a friend just kind of recharges your soul." 

Kiyoko reveals that she often struggles with mental health issues, but daily check-ins with her sister help drive the blues away. 

Perri, who's been in and out of therapy for 25 years, discusses a supportive group chat she maintains with women all over the country. 

Finally, Sterling explains how a roommate's caring gesture diminished her depression. 

Those videos follow a longer, more intense Ad Council outing from May, with singer Billie Eilish holding forth on similar themes: 

The Eilish clip garnered 4 million views. The new work drops today, coinciding with Suicide Prevention Month, and is running across "Seize the Awkward" channels, the artists' platforms and various digital media. The clips invite viewers to explore resources and tools at SeizeTheAwkward.org. 

Partners providing exposure and customized content for the campaign include Billboard, Café Grumpy, Facebook, Goodtype, Initiative, Reddit, Snap and Uproxx.

"We know young adulthood is a critical time when many people experience great stress from multiple life changes like leaving high school and moving from home to begin college or to start working," says Ad Council campaign development chief Heidi Arthur. "It's also a time when mental health issues frequently emerge."

She adds: "Friends can be very influential in helping those struggling get the support they need. In fact, 76 percent of young adults will turn to a peer in time of crisis for support. This generation is ready to crack open the cultural conversation about mental health, and 'Seize the Awkward' is arming them with the language and resources to do so."

Since launching in January 2018, the campaign has amassed nearly 22 million views, 42,000 social mentions and over 1.3 billion social impressions.

Other notable suicide-prevention efforts include the powerhouse 2018 short subject "Waste of Film," about a photographer who twice tried to take his own life, and Logic's lauded "1-800-273-8255," a hit song named for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number.

"Seize the Awkward" strikes a more convivial chord, but its message still resonates.

"We try to make the content for the campaign as approachable and relatable as possible," Arthur says. "These videos are authentic, honest and personal. The musicians already have such a strong connection with their fans, we wanted these videos to feel as if they were sharing their personal experiences with a friend."

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.