Can We Learn Anything From Lil Peep’s Death? [Editorial]

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Dance Music Northwest or its leadership.

Lil Peep, a rising star in the hip-hop community, recently passed away from what many are saying was an overdose from Xanax. Police in Tuscon, Arizona are still investigating the details of his death, and nothing is certain without a signed toxicology report.

As the news came forward that Lil Peep had passed away, many people took to the Internet. To be honest I had never heard of Lil Peep until my Facebook timeline was blowing up about him. I began to look more into his public persona, and find out what he was all about. There seemed to be more to the story than drugs and music. As I dug further, I realized just how desensitized many people have become to drugs, depression, addiction, and death.

On his, and his friends’ Instagrams I came across cocaine, pills, and acid. These were not pictures and videos of drug paraphernalia, but of people doing lines of cocaine, and taking pills. These images had thousands of likes and comments, and Instagram did not remove them. Photos showing a woman’s nipple get removed for being unacceptable, yet people can post someone doing a line of cocaine. His many followers saw, liked and commented, but did not report. It seemed that his drug use and depression was entertainment.

In the days leading up to his death, there were posts about depression, pills, and death. After his passing, many characterized these posts as cries for help, yet they were glorified when he was alive just weeks earlier. People saw these posts as normal and an image he was selling. In a recent interview, his older brother even said Lil Peep was happier than he portrayed to the public, and because of his image he had to portray himself a certain way.

The negativity that I found following his death was disturbing. Some people expressed happiness about his death because of his drug use and influence on young people. Others dismissed his death as something that just happens to drug users. During a prime opportunity to support a family and open a real discussion on depression and drug use, social media largely chose instead to discuss whether or not it was “good he died.” While people were bashing him online, his family and friends were mourning, trying to find answers.

Lil Peep’s passing raised many red flags to me about who we are becoming. We did not notice (or care to) the possible pain from someone so openly talking about depression and death; we talked negatively, at length, about the deceased while others were trying to mourn; we did not notice (or care to) how much our empathy is shut off to activities we disapprove of, even when someone might have needed help.

I am not asking you to change your feelings about Lil Peep. But there is clearly more to who we are than what we put on social media. Many are hurting, or looking for help, or pretending to be someone they aren’t. These truths could be used to start a conversation about depression, addiction, and isolation, if we wanted them to. We could dig deeper, see that someone’s social posts are only part of what they are, and deny our urge to glorify or judge someone’s harmful behaviors.

If we want.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Dance Music Northwest or its leadership.

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