Mind matters: DJs band together for a tribute to The Prodigy's Keith Flint

Today FM DJ Declan Pierce has helped set up the tribute night to Keith Flint

Next Friday, May 24, more than 20 DJs will take to the stage in Dublin and collectively blow the roof off the silence surrounding depression, anxiety, mental illness, and every other undermining emotion isolating an increasing number of people.

The venue is Opium on Wexford St and the night is a tribute to the explosive musical genius that was Keith Flint of The Prodigy.

The clown haired, eyeliner-smudged embodiment of a jilted generation with the crazed eyes and wide-toothed smile exuded the kind of energy that could power the national grid of several cities when he was centre stage. On March 4, he pulled that plug.

While the latest report confirms Flint died by suicide, the senior coroner for Essex, Caroline Beasley-Murray, officially recorded an open conclusion, saying that due to the presence of drugs in his system there was not enough evidence to rule that he intentionally killed himself.

The untimely passing of Flint, coupled with The Prodigy’s speed in acknowledging it, has already helped destigmatise suicide and mental health problems.

Flint has inadvertently become the posthumous posterboy promoting our need to just ‘f**king talk about it…’ On May 7 the band took to Twitter and showed true solidarity with their legions of fans worldwide by speaking honestly about Flint’s death and the importance of mental health before offering a link to the Samaritans’ and other support groups’ websites.

They wrote: “If you are struggling with depression, addiction, or the impact of suicide, please do not suffer in silence. The Prodigy fully support the campaign to improve mental health for all.”

Keith Flint.
Keith Flint.

Today FM’s Declan Pierce and DJ Mark Kavanagh of Sound Crowd fame are the driving force behind Dublin’s Keith Flint Tribute Night which will see all monies raised go towards Pieta House — and with the 650 tickets selling out fast for €15 each, it should raise close to €10,000 on the night.

“Keith Flint and The Prodigy have been a part of my life since I was 12 years old,” says Pierce. “They are the main reason I became a DJ. The weekend after he passed I held a Keith Flint night on the radio and the reaction from everyone to the music was phenomenal.

“We referenced all the charities out there that can help people and pretty soon we were inundated with texts and tweets — people with manic depression, anxiety, loneliness, desperation; everyone from farmers to builders to restaurant staff. They were actually coming out and talking about it.

“The reaction was so strong I got in touch with Mark and we decided to put this night together in conjunction with the 11-date Keith Flint Tribute tour in Britain which is raising funds for CALM and MIND. We felt it could just make a difference on so many levels here as well as raising much-needed funds for Pieta. Then all the different acts started calling saying ‘hey, we want to be a part of this!’”

Flint is not a lone figure in the high-octane music industry.

Look at Avicii — 28 years old and selling out massive stadiums around the world. Look at Keith — he was adored by millions, he was just back from Australia and getting ready to tour the States with The Prodigy.

"None of that perceived success protects you from mental illness. It just doesn’t work like that.

“What people need to realise is that what you’re seeing on stage is all a performance. It’s not real life. That high on stage needs to be balanced offstage.”

Pierce became aware of this himself after he’d been gigging around the country a lot in his 20s. “DJing for me was my comfort zone, I was buzzing, loving it until maybe two days later I’d wake up just feeling low and empty and not knowing why. I had to learn what to do to deal with that — go cycling or running or do something else I loved that would actively rebalance me.”

He commends The Prodigy’s forthright and speedy response to Keith’s death. “They were really quick to come out and admit that it was suicide and that in itself is hugely important. It helps to take away the stigma that’s still attached to it. Keith would have wanted that himself.”

One can only hope the self-proclaimed twisted firestarter will continue to keep the jilted generation talking.

For details see eventbrite.ie

  • HOW YOU CAN HELP

  • Psychologist Marie Walsh, clinical director of Leeson Analytic, offers practical advice on how you can help a family member or friend dealing with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts.
  • 1. Don’t be afraid to ask “are you OK?”, “are you feeling hopeless?”, or “do you feel there is no point in going on?”
  • 2. Tell them you’re right there and they are not on their own. Tell them you are thinking of them. This is very important as they will realise that their presence matters.
  • 3. We need to learn to be there for each other in a generous way and accept people without making demands of them.
  • 4. Learn to fail better. We all need to come to terms with the fact that failure is a normal part of life and once accepted it can lead to far better things.
  • 5. Encourage the friend or family member to talk, to put into words how they are feeling. It doesn’t have to be to you but tell them to talk to someone they trust. They can pick up the phone

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