This past weekend, Sarah Barthel – musician and vocalist of electronic pop-rock band Phantogram – posted a tribute to her sister Becky on what would have been Becky’s 40th birthday.
As it has been six years since her sister passed away from suicide, Barthel reminded her Instagram followers, “…you are not alone and it’s okay to not be okay. You are loved, admired, and important in this world.”
Sarah Barthel’s Important Message To Her Instagram Followers
Barthel posted a photo with Becky – the two of them and a friend showing toothy smiles in the back seat of a car, with windows down and a dog in their laps – a photo that masks the depression and anxiety that Barthel says her sister felt her entire life.
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Barthel was introspective on her post and shared that she has felt sadness and guilt daily for the past six years, and that life will never be the same without her sister.
Her messages resonated with her fans; Barthel’s comments section overflowed with heart emojis and messages from people appreciating her willingness to open up about her loss and grieving process.
One follower wrote: “Thank you for sharing and being willing to speak publicly about what families go through when they lose a loved one to suicide. I lost a parent 15 years ago and the hard feelings never go away because of how that person meant to us…”
Barthel Is A Mental Health Advocate
Barthel has been an active advocate for suicide prevention since her sister’s passing, and according to “Rolling Stone,” she and her bandmate and friend Josh Carter produced multiple songs, “Someday” and “Saturday,” which benefited American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
“I’m always gonna feel you in everything that I do, I do / To never be with you, oh I miss you so,” Barthel sings in “Someday.” “If only I could see you / I’d tell you that I love you, I do.”
Barthel Discussed Mental Health On “Going There” Podcast
Barthel also previously joined licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Mike Friedman on his “Going There” podcast to discuss her tribulations after her sister’s loss. In the podcast, the “Black Out Days” singer discusses the effects of losing her sister to suicide, as well as losing her father to cancer and watching her mother endure cancer, too.
The podcast, which fuses music with mental health, has also showcased interviews from musicians Alessia Cara, Chelsea Cutler and Gerard Way among others. They spoke on topics such as “National Day of Unplugging,” where people were encouraged to put away their electronics and find other ways to connect with each other, living with anxiety and insomnia and overcoming mental health stigmas.
On Barthel’s episode, she discussed how she always kept her feelings inside of her while dealing with traumatic experiences, even when it was difficult. She depended more and more on her music, with growing up with the multiple losses she’s experienced. Though she didn’t realize it when she started her band, for her, music was her subconscious way of dealing with trauma and expressing the feelings she tried hard to bottle.
“I truly felt my passion,” Barthel said. “Music was bringing this cathartic release...I was able to speak in a way, and it took over my life.”
Looking back, she realized that the song titles and lyrics that Phantogram put out are usually dark, because that was her sole expressive outlet.
“It was [our band’s] release to the world,” Barthel said. “It was a way to tell my story without having to tell my story, and connecting to people and connecting to our fans that could hear what I was trying to say.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, you are not alone. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is available to help.