Lady Gaga took to Twitter yesterday to mourn the death of her friend Rick "Zombie Boy" Genest who starred with her in the video for Born This Way. The Canadian-born model and artist was found in his Montreal apartment after having died of an apparent suicide at the age of 32.
Genest, who went from living on the streets to working as a high fashion runway model, was known as "Zombie Boy" for his heavy tattooing and body modifications.
In a series of tweets Gaga expressed her heartbreak over the loss of her friend and urged anyone suffering from depression to seek out the help they need. Gaga tweeted:
"The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating. If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other."
The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating. We have to work harder to change the culture, bring Mental Health to the forefront and erase the stigma that we can’t talk about it. If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other. pic.twitter.com/THz6x5JlpB— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) August 3, 2018
Science tells us that it takes 21 days to form a habit, if you are suffering from Mental Health issue I beckon for today to be your first day or a continuation of the work you’ve been doing. Reach out if you’re in pain, and if you know someone who is, reach out to them too. pic.twitter.com/4pVR5xyoH6— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) August 3, 2018
Genest's rise to international fame began after the UK publicaiton Bizarre Magazine saw his pictures on MySpace and went to Montreal to meet him.
Genest went on to work as a model for Nicola Formichetti who would later became Lady Gaga's stylist. Genest also modeled for Jay-Z's fashion label Rocawear, as well as appearing in the Keanu Reeves film 47 Ronin.
After news of Genest's death friends and fans expressed their sadness over his loss.
He has been an inspiration of mine of years, I remember saving his photos in high school thinking if someone covered in tattoos like that can make it so can I. He was a big reason I felt so comfortable starting to get ink. RIP 🖤— Dre Romaine 🥗 (@DreRonayne) August 3, 2018
Rest in peace to one of the coolest guys I've ever seen, this man was exactly what he wanted to be, Thoughts are with his family, fans and everyone in between 🌹— Jack Mull (@J4CKMULL) August 3, 2018
And many thanked Gaga for raising awareness about the issues surrounding depression and mental health.
Thank you for your voice highlighting mental illness. I have a daughter who is bipolar and suffers with anxiety and terrible depression. It's important to make the public aware of these very difficult times for people who suffer like this.— Jeanie Novick (@novick_jeanie) August 3, 2018
You have such a beautiful soul 💜 Thank you for speaking up on these subjects which are still considered a taboo for so many people, your words mean the world 💜— 💚 Judas 💚 (@_HolyFool) August 3, 2018
thank you for consistently caring about mental health. I hope more people follow your example. I love and appreciate you very much.— jaz (@birthdad) August 3, 2018
While others echoed Gaga's call to end the stigma of discussing mental health.
We will continue to spread kindness together always. We will fight the stigma around mental health and support each other in our hardships. We can make a difference I know it!!— Joey | Lady Gaga (@joeywithpawsup) August 3, 2018
Every conversation, regardless of how challenging the subject matter is, needs to start at some point. That's where we are with mental health, I feel. Only just beginning to talk about it. At least we are though now.— Ste (@ste_m_g) August 3, 2018
How can we change things? Being able to talk freely about mental health seems so far away.— GlumCandy (@GlumCandy) August 3, 2018
If you or someone you love is in need of help please reach out today.