When I heard about Justin Utley and his new song, “Scars,” I knew, I wanted to write about it, especially after my neighbor, a 30-years old man committed suicide a week ago.
Suicide in America is dominated by white men, who account for 70 percent of all cases. Plus, mental illness in our country is ignored, and furthermore has an undesirable stigma!
Justin Utley has a lot to say on the epidemic of young people taking their lives in America today. “I know how quickly the walls close in, how easy it is to get to that edge, and the years of the lasting impact it has on those left behind. It’s devastating, tragic, and also preventable.”
In Utah, where Justin Utley recorded the Scars album, suicide is the leading cause of death for children, teens, and college students. It is also the second leading cause of death in adult men and women to age 44. “I came dangerously close to ending my own life,” Justin explains. “Close enough that my good friend called the police.”
Born and raised in Utah, Justin Utley’s music career took off when he was selected to perform at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
After breaking ties with his Mormon roots and moving to New York City, Justin became a sought-after talent, spending much of his career touring as a performer at Pride Festivals worldwide where he has shared the stage with top international acts including Dan Reynolds, Icona Pop, Tegan & Sara, and Margaret Cho.
After Justin learned that his friend had called the police to warn them about his intention to harm himself, he fled. He eventually agreed to meet the police to show them he was ok, but when he arrived, there had been an accident. Sadly, his mother had been following behind the police and was now being pulled out from her car that was totaled beneath an SUV.
For hours, Justin waited in the ER for news of his mother. When she was finally released, she sat next to him, bruised and bandaged, and said, “if this is what it takes for you to know you are loved the way you are, I’ll do it again”.
That night changed everything for Justin.
“To those considering suicide, know that the darker and longer the shadow, the brighter the light is that casts it,” says Justin. “There is always help available to get you out of that space where there appears to be no way out of. Once you’ve found that safe space, reach out to someone else who might be struggling to find it. Empathy is more powerful than sympathy alone, and that outreach can be life-changing.”
The Scars album and its title track are being distributed independently and are available on Bandcamp on September 10; Apple Music, Spotify and all digital platforms on September 20. The Scars music video is available on Youtube.