In honor of World Mental Health Day on Saturday, Juice WRLD’s mother, Carmela Wallace, penned an open letter about her son and announced the Live Free 999 Fund’s new website.
The “Lucid Dreams” rapper, born Jarad Higgins, died in December 2019 of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 21. Wallace established the foundation in April in his honor.
The foundation aims to support programs that address mental health and substance abuse, focusing on underserved communities.
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We strive towards Supporting programs that compassionately and successfully address addiction, anxiety, and depression. Normalizing the conversation around these issues, especially in underserved communities. Supporting programs that help people find positive avenues to process their mental health challenges just like Jarad did with his music.
First reported on by Billboard, Wallace penned an open letter about her relationship with her son, saying they “were always close” and “had long conversations about his future and the world in general,” and about his struggles.
She writes that she did not initially support his decision to leave school to pursue music, but he persuaded her to let him take a year off from school “to work on his own music and his vision as Juice WRLD.”
The two were close, and in the letter, she opened up about his struggles with addiction, noting they “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,” she continued. “As a parent, I believed early on and supported Jarad having access to counseling. I encouraged him to always share his feelings.”
She goes on to say that she “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.”
“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,” Wallace’s letter concludes.