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The toxicity of stardom

Lil Peep, a 21-year-old American rapper and singer, passed away on Nov. 15, 2017. His death has been attributed to a Xanax overdose which has sparked a conversation about the opioid addiction epidemic in the United States.

Lil Peep’s music normalized the use of opioids and other drugs as a way to escape from life. Most of Lil Peep’s fans loved him because his songs broadcasted unadulterated takes on death, desperation and depression and were relatable in ways no other music could be.

In the days before his death, Lil Peep posted several photos to his Instagram with captions that should have caused a wave of concern. However, the wave came crashing in far too late. On Nov. 14 at 11:16 p.m. he posted the last photo to his account. The caption read, “When I die you’ll love me.” By the next morning, he was found dead on his tour bus. It is so saddening to see someone who is so clearly in need of help be ignored.

For the duration of his career, Lil Peep was not secretive about his depression, drug use and numerous suicide attempts. He used that energy as the fuel for every song he created. There had never been music that sounded quite like Lil Peep’s: a blend of the heartbreakingly straightforward lyricism of rap mixed with the earnest emotion of emo.

Depression and drug use need to be treated and not glorified. Putting Lil Peep on a pedestal for using drugs as a coping mechanism is dangerous. Artists like him may be suffering from serious mental illnesses. When fans color their idol’s drug use with positive connotations, they are supporting the descent into even deeper depression.

The death of a 21-year-old star is nothing new, especially not in the music industry. But it is very shocking to hear Lil Peep’s manager announce the news by saying he had “been expecting this call for a year.” Lil Peep’s own manager was prepared for him to die at any given moment but he did nothing to prevent it out of a desire to keep up Lil Peep’s trademark image.

The most remarkable thing about Lil Peep is not that he is dead now. It is that he connected with so many people, so quickly and yet none of those connections could keep him alive.

By the end of Lil Peep’s life, intense and reckless drug use had become the biggest, most iconic part of his image. In the future, fans need to reach out and make sure that the artists they supposedly love will make it out of their twenties. If anyone is in need of help or someone to talk to, call the 24-hour suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.