College life is full of stress and changes, which could explain why suicide is the second-leading cause of death in college students. To combat this and raise awareness, mtvU and The Jed Foundation partnered together to make the program series “Half of Us.” The goal of the program is to inform and help reduce the number of suicides and help college students with mental health issues. The show is a commercial-free hour-long presentation of related music videos and candid interviews with stars, including Mary J. Blige and Nelly Furtado. Among those, Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy also talked about his battle with depression for the show. In a live chat room interview, he answered questions from students representing more than 50 colleges.
Chat Moderator: Why did you decide to take part in the “Half of Us” campaign?
I feel like I am not much of an expert on anything from music history to questions about love. This is one thing I felt hit close to home. I felt like I could offer my side of a conversation, maybe not answer people, but at least let them know someone else felt similarly.
Texas A&M: How do you reach out to someone who is suffering from depression?
I don’t think you can really reach out to anyone. They need to reach out to you. The best thing is to let them know you are there for them, but not to be overbearing … I think what resonated with me was realizing that at some point I didn’t want to glorify depression … I didn’t want to make it something cool.
University of Tampa: How did your band mates help support you through everything?
The only one who knew was Patrick, I think. I lied to everyone and hid it. Patrick knew because of the words. I didn’t speak to anyone at the time. They were there at the end and were just friends to me. Most of what goes on between Patrick and I is unspoken — it’s a weird bond. But if it weren’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be … bouncing into padded walls probably.
Monmouth University: What is the number one thing that helped you out of the struggle?
Seeing myself in a mirror, reading articles about myself. Probably, honestly, the Rolling Stone article and an alternative press one were just eye opening for me. I couldn’t just tread water anymore — it became sink or swim.
Wright State: When you were in college, did you suffer any rough patches emotionally like many other college students?
Yeah. I felt pretty isolated. It’s strange to go from a place where you feel really comfortable to a new place where you don’t know anyone — and this was in my own city.
Fullerton College: Did your depression ever lead you to suicidal thoughts? How did you get past that?
Yes. I am not sure. I always have a few people I know I can call if it ever gets that bad, I guess. Usually people have got me figured out enough to know when I stop calling or how my voice sounds when something is really wrong.
University of Colorado at Denver: You’ve said that Fall Out Boy saved your life, in a way. How so?
I escaped the small town I was from. I adventured. I saw the world. I get to escape for an hour every night on stage. Hear that you mean something to someone. It gives me something to believe in. It makes me want to be a better person. It makes me want to stick around.
“Half of Us” starts today on mtvU. For more information, see Halfofus.com.