In honor of World Mental Health Day, Carmela Wallace – mother of late rapper Juice WRLD – wrote an open letter in which she announced a new website for the Live Free 999 Fund, a nonprofit organization which aims to support young people struggling with their mental health.
In her letter, Wallace reflected on her relationship with the late rapper, whose real name is Jarad Higgins. The mother wrote that they had long discussions about his music career since he was in high school and that it was important for her to support her son’s dream.
Wallace also opened up about their conversations on Higgins’ addiction, anxiety and depression. “I think he felt comfortable being honest with me, because I never judged him,” she wrote. “I recognized that what Jarad was dealing with was a disease, and I know he truly wanted to be free from the demons that tormented him. As a parent, I believed early on and supported Jarad having access to counseling. I encouraged him to always share his feelings.”
Wallace shared a new website for the Live Free 999 Fund in hopes it will serve as a resource to those who are struggling. “If we can help even one Mother and their son or daughter through our work here, Jarad’s death will have meaning and his positive, loving, creative spirit will endure.”
Higgins died in December 2019 at age 21 after suffering a seizure at Midway Airport in Chicago. The cause of death was later revealed to be an accidental overdose. In a statement, Wallace confirmed that she was aware of his battle with addiction and mental health, and has chosen to share his story with the world in order to help those who may be in a similar situation.
In honor of the late rapper, Wallace founded the Live Free 999 Fund in April. Among other initiatives, the organization donated a complete set of band and orchestral instruments to the late rapper’s former school, Deer Creek Christian School in Chicago Heights, IL, with the support of his record labels, Grade A and Interscope Geffen A&M.
“My message to the parents and children is simple,” Wallace continued in her letter. “You do not have to suffer alone. You do not have to be ashamed of your mental health struggles. There is help. There is a way out.”
Read Wallace’s full letter below.
“Jarad and I were always close. We liked to play pinball together. We had long conversations about his future and about the world in general. But like any mother and son, we had our issues. Jarad came from a family where academics were the highest priority, so I wanted him to focus on school, but he was always more interested in music. His teachers would often tell me that he was extremely gifted, but that he was always focused on his music. I’d often find him in the studio in the afternoon, pursuing his dream. He was laser-focused. In the end, Jarad won the battle and I agreed to let him take a year off after high school to work on his own music and his vision as Juice WRLD. When his career took off, I left my job in quality management to join his team. Jarad recorded music every day, in every city he found himself in. He amassed literally hundreds and hundreds of songs. The lyrics and melodies all made from his beautiful mind.
Jarad and I often had frank discussions about his struggles with addiction, anxiety and depression. I think he felt comfortable being honest with me because I never judged him. I recognized that what Jarad was dealing with was a disease and I know he truly wanted to be free from the demons that tormented him. As a parent, I believed early on and supported Jarad having access to counseling. I encouraged him to always share his feelings.
I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love following the loss of my son. His loving spirit which is communicated through his music has touched so many people. I launched Live Free 999 so that perhaps his death could mean something for other mothers whose sons and daughters are dealing with the same kinds of issues that my son struggled with.
My message to the parents and children is simple. You do not have to suffer alone. You do not have to be ashamed of your mental health struggles. There is help. There is a way out.
On Mental Health Day 2020, I have launched a new website LiveFree999.org in the hopes that it will be a resource to those that are struggling. If we can help even one Mother and their son or daughter through our work here, Jarad’s death will have meaning and his positive, loving, creative spirit will endure.”
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