July marks National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels is sharing his personal story, detailing his fight with depression, suicide and alcoholism in a new memoir titled Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, Ebony reports.
McDaniels writes of his experience battling these mental health issues while on tour with Joseph “Run” Simmons and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell, the other members of the trailblazing hip-hop trio. McDaniels says he struggled with “imposter syndrome” while reconciling his former identity as a Catholic school comic book geek with his new persona as a rap superstar.
McDaniels says that he often turned to alcohol to hide his emotions, a habit that quickly developed into a full-fledged substance abuse issue. His drinking intensified with each successive album until 1990, when he was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas. The illness landed him in the hospital, where he was unable to digest solid foods for a month and a half.
After this, the rap star stayed sober for 10 years before relapsing in 2000. Then, in 2002, the group’s DJ, Jam Master Jay, was murdered, which drove McDaniels further into despair and triggered suicidal thoughts. Eventually, the star’s wife, Zuri, challenged him to confront his demons head-on. That’s when McDaniels sought treatment for his depression and other troubles.
Today, McDaniels preaches a philosophy of self-love and says he isn’t afraid to talk about his mental health problems. The rapper has been sober for 12 years now and plans to continue speaking out about these issues in the black community.
According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20 percent more likely than the overall population to experience serious mental health issues. But only about one quarter of African Americans are currently seeking mental health care, compared with about 40 percent of white people.
For more information about African Americans’ need for mental health services, click here.