I had planned on writing about something different this week, however, I have to touch on the Billie Eilish video. Aria sang that song, Hostage, by Billie Eilish on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019. Four days before she passed. I posted a video of that performance on my Instagram. Along with a paragraph explaining how proud I was of her professionalism when the events of the day did not turn out exactly as planned. That performance was supposed to be a duet. Her friend got the flu and couldn’t perform. Aria forgot her keys and couldn’t get into the house to get her Ukulele. I was already at work, so I couldn’t help. She had an hour to change her song choice and prepare. STILL with all the chaos, SHE DELIVERED. I was so proud, still am. Not only of her beautiful performance but mostly how she rose to the occasion. She showed the determination, dedication, and passion of a true professional.
Billie was Aria’s favorite artist. My sister, Alli (our best friend), Aria, and I went to LA this passed summer. Our car rides consisted of the never-ending Billie Eilish playlist. We found posters and billboards of Billie all over the city. Aria would have to stop and pose in front of them for a pic. She was as true fan. A couple of days after Aria passed, a family member sent the video of Aria singing that song to one of Billie’s friends/producer. We never heard anything until Thursday, April 18th, when a snippet of Aria’s performance was on Billie’s Instagram story. Attached with “Rest in Peace” and Aria’s full name. We were all in shock………. Its been almost 3 months!
Aria’s Instagram account went Banana’s. Billie Eilish has 18 million followers. I have access to Aria’s account, always have, even when she was alive. In less than a week, Aria’s Instagram had over 50,000 visits. Billie’s fans suddenly became very interested in who she was and how she died. There were a lot of comments and DM’s (direct messages). Including a specific message to me (which I won’t go into detail about). The message lead me to having a conversation with a concerned parent (whose child knew Aria). During our phone call he asked if I knew about the “shout out” from Billie. I answered with a “yes.” He went silent on the other end and then let out a huge sigh following “yea, so now all the kids are in an uproar again.” His tone was frustrated and felt very judgmental. I felt immediate shame. Even though, I know, I had no IDEA any of this was going to happen. I wanted to scream but I kept my composure. There were so many things I wanted to say. This man was ultimately suggesting that by Billie posting Aria’s video, she was condoning or “glorifying” how Aria died. Which is not true. Whether Billie knew how Aria died is irrelevant. If anything, the “uproar” is an important conversation that needs to be had at home, schools, and on a national level. It was a beautiful tribute that brought myself, my family and Aria’s closest friends a lot of comfort and excitement. WE knew how much that would mean to Buggy. So, Thank you, Billie Eilish.
While finishing my master’s there were numerous professors and mental health professionals that admitted there were two things that “scared us.” One, Borderline Personality Disorder, which is irrelevant to this convo. I am no expert on why that is. Two, suicidal ideation. The latter being the “scariest.” We are trained to de-escalate. We screen for past attempts, the means to complete, or a plan to complete. We must go with our gut and either send them on their way and hope they can remain safe. Or we must report, which can lead to a psychiatric hold. Either way, it’s a “scary” encounter. Not ALL mental health professionals find these encounters scary after years’ experience. But, as a new mental health professional, I’d be lying if I said, prior to Aria’s passing, I feared it too. This week, I read two separate articles about two teenage boys completing suicide. One for being bullied about being gay. The other for being bullied for his weight, this kid might have been younger, maybe 9. This tragedy will continue if we don’t start talking about it.
Lastly, to anyone who was offended or annoyed by Aria’s recognition, I will NEVER dim Aria’s light. I will NEVER stop telling stories and posting videos. I will NEVER stop speaking about the joy and love she brought into our lives. I will NOT hide behind the stigma of her passing. People will know, YES, MY 13-year-old daughter died by suicide. It is heartbreaking to say and know, but, it’s the truth. I will NEVER stop spreading awareness. Aria’s story WILL change lives and WILL get people talking about this epidemic. So, if anyone is pissed off about the “uproar” that comes from acknowledging ARIA’S existence, life, and story……. BUCKLE UP!!!!