Why Waka Flocka Has Dedicated His Life To Suicide Prevention and Mental Health
Waka Flocka typically makes headlines for his social media posts that often leave fans in an uproar or for his statements on his reality show alongside his wife, Tammy Rivera. But, Flocka warmed the hearts of millions when he announced that he would be using his platform to help aid in suicide prevention and mental health awareness. The rapper has experienced tragedy related to mental health after his younger brother took his own life.
Waka Flocka lost his brother to suicide
Flocka’s brother and fellow rap artist Kayo Redd, was reported dead from gunshot wounds in December 2013. Just hours before his death, he’d promoted and released his mixtape, Red Kisses. It was later reported that his death was by suicide and confirmed by Flocka in a distressed tweet that was later removed from Flocka’s social media feed.
Flocka addressed Redd’s death in two separate tweets hours after his death went public. “God please bless me.” he wrote. Later that day, Flocka followed up with, “Ya Big Brother love you Kayo” and shared a 15-second photo montage of Redd.
Flocka’s mother, hip hop manager Debra Antney, also spoke on Redd’s passing. “I just lost another son,” she wrote.
At the time, Redd was experiencing his own personal struggles, including losing his eyesight. His family later explained that he’d been a victim of bullying.
It wasn’t the first tragedy for the Flocka family. Another brother of Flocka’s died from a car accident when he was 13-years-old. Antney later said Flocka took his brother’s accident hard and he acted out because he blamed himself. A member of Flocka’s crew, Slim Dunkin, was murdered during an argument at a recording studio two years before Redd’s suicide.
Flocka spoke of Redd’s suicide in 2017 with Viceland and spoke about the feeling of regret he felt in the aftermath of his Redd’s death. “Before my little brother killed himself, I hadn’t picked up the phone. I seen him call and I said, ‘F**k, let me call Kayo back as soon as this s**t over with,” Flocka said.
Flocka said he gave up rap for a while because the burden Kayo’s suicide weighed so heavily on him. “What if I would have answered his call? That’s when I said, ‘This rap s**t, F**k this rap s**t.”
Waka Flocka announces he’s dedicating his life to suicide prevention and mental health
The guilt of Redd’s death continued to follow Flocka and impact him in ways he never imagined. He continued to blame himself, telling Viceland that he understood how Redd being in his shadow potentially affected him. But Flocka says he was so busy that he failed to pay Redd’s feelings any real attention. He told Viceland:
I’m tryna work so much to keep everybody happy, when reality was going by. What the fu*k was my little brother going through to kill his self? God damn, that’s how stressful this sh*t is? That crazy? What he had to go through, to be Waka Flocka’s little brother… and how am I that busy that I couldn’t recognize that?Waka Flocka
After Redd’s death, the family launched the No R.I.P. (Reckless Internet Posting) Foundation. The foundation advocates for responsible reporting by blog and media sites of deaths, rather than the circulation of potentially harmful gossip. Dealing with the situation publicly was not easy as the family did not have time to grieve privately so the foundation was their way of ensuring other families don’t have the same trouble.
But Flocka is looking to do more. The rapper and reality star announced on Twitter that he’s committing to making suicide prevention and mental health awareness his lifelong job.
“I’m officially dedicating my life to suicide prevention and mental illness!!! Y’all not alone Waka Flocka Flame is with y’all now,” he wrote.
Flocka hasn’t announced any concrete plan of how he will go about using his platform for mental health awareness and suicide prevention but it’s admirable that he’s turned his pain into providing hope for others.