Another day. Another senseless shooting. Another life lost. Another incident to further fuel the “mental illness” versus “gun control” debate. The fact is that we don’t know the facts, we don’t know if the shooter had suffered from a mental illness nor do we know if he obtained the gun illegally. Yet, this isn’t about why some deem those with mental illness to be violent (we know studies, research and statistic have repeatedly shown this to not be true) nor is it about gun control. This is about the music and the safe space it creates for all of us.
I had never heard of Christina Grimmie until late last night when Twitter began trending #PrayForChristina. I learned she was a former contestant on The Voice. The first time I ever heard her sing was while playing a clip on YouTube while trying to learn more about her. But nonetheless, the shooting and subsequent loss had an effect on me. Why? Because I kept reading the tweets from her fans; her music helped them through a difficult time, her music made them happy, her music reminded them of a great day or a fun night or their best friend and on and on.
To purposely sound cliche, music is the universal language. It transcends race, age, gender, religion, income, and generations. Literally generations. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t still be hearing Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, or 15 century Gregorian Chants. I often advocate for the benefits of music therapy, both formal and informal, for anyone struggling with a mental health disorder or even after a rough day. A song can instantly alter your mood. It can evoke memories or even make you just want to get up and dance.
Christina Grimmie lost her life doing what she loved most. Her safe space was violated, destroyed. The safe space for her fans was taken from them. For as much as she was providing her fans with moments of happiness and great memories, they were providing her with the same. Music connects and bonds us. It’s reciprocal. It’s heals us and gives us what we need and we in turn give it the audience it needs to exist.
Safe spaces are necessary for everyone, especially those struggling with a mental illness. They can be an actual space or one that a state of mind, in essence, the state of mind that music helps create. It’s sad when one of these spaces no longer exist, especially if its not on our own accord.