After speaking out about mental health earlier this year, James Blake recently took part in a panel at the Performing Arts Medicine Association’s annual symposium in Orange County, California. Titled “You Got This: Managing the Suicide Crisis in the Arts Population,” Blake opened up about his personal experiences with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Speaking on his early entry into the music industry, James says he was “taken away from normal life essentially at an age where I was half-formed.” He reports that the “surface level” experiences artists have in the fast-paced industry do not allow for deep discussions of mental health, but instead, superficial conversations about the “good stuff.”
Blake also discussed the dietary issues that have surfaced in his career. “I would say that chemical imbalance due to diet and the deterioration of my health was a huge, huge factor in my depression and eventual suicidal thoughts,” he said. “I developed [dietary] intolerances that would lead to existential depression on a daily basis. I would eat a certain thing and then all day I would feel like there was just no point.”
In relation to the strenuous lifestyle that comes with being a touring artist, James Blake suggests staying realistic in what one person can do.
“Honestly, a lot of catharsis just came in telling lots of people to fuck off. And saying no. Saying no to constant touring. No [amount of] money will ever be enough… we’ve reached a critical point. We are the generation that’s watched several other generations of musicians turn to drugs and turn to excess and coping mechanisms that have destroyed them. And there are so many high-profile people recently who’ve taken their own lives. So we, I think, have a responsibility to talk about it and to remove the stigma.”
Anyone in need of help can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–8255 or SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.