Lady Gaga is raising awareness about the seriousness of mental illness after news broke of the death of her friend and Canadian model Rick ‘Zombie Boy’ Genest. Following the apparent suicide of Genest, Gaga called on her 76 million Twitter followers to help change the culture and stigma surrounding mental illness.
In a series of tweets, she wrote: “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.”
She urged those that are battling depression to reach out for help and encouraged her fans to consistently check in on loved ones that may be suffering.
“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,” she said, adding: “Reach out if you’re in pain, and if you know someone who is, reach out to them too.”
In light of Ganest’s death, Gaga informed her fans that she would be exploring “the power of habits to build cultures of kindness and wellness” to help tackle the often overlooked issue of mental illness and depression.
“Kindness and mental health aren’t one time practices. They aren’t just to do list items,” she wrote in a third tweet.
Genest was found dead in his Montreal apartment Wednesday night, according to CBC. An agency representing the model confirmed his death on Facebook. The cause of death has not been officially confirmed, although it appears to be suicide.
“The whole Dulcedo family is shocked and pained by this tragedy,” the statement reads. “Zombie boy, Rico, was loved by all those who had the chance to meet him and know him. Icon of the artistic scene and the fashion world, this innovator, against popular culture, has been able to charm all hearts. We received the unfortunate news at the beginning of the afternoon and members of the team have come to support his family and relatives in this dark and difficult moment. We want to present our deepest condolences and the legend will survive human. Thank you zb for these beautiful moments in your company and for your radiant smile.” [Facebook translated]
Genest was often referred to as “Zombie Boy,” due to detailed bone and organ tattoos across his body, including skull-like features inked across his face. Genest currently holds a Guinness World Record for the most insect and bone tattoos on his body, according to PEOPLE. He would have celebrated his 33rd birthday on Aug. 7.
Gaga featured Genest in her video for the hit song “Born This Way” in 2011 and wore makeup in the music video to mimic Genest’s tattoos.
Ganest also modelled for French fashion designer Thierry Mugler, starred as the face of Jay-Z’s Rock-A-Wear fashion label, and appeared in Vogue Japan, according to The Independent.