Alpha Rev Frontman Casey McPherson/Suicide Survivor, mental health advocate

Alpha Rev’s Casey McPherson’s music has so much emotional depth and beauty, one begins to sense that this charismatic frontman has been to very, very dark places and lived to tell about it. McPherson was incredibly open in this interview about his father’s suicide, and later, the suicide of his only brother. The former front man of Endochine, Mcpherson dissolved his band of five years and formed Alpha Rev to grapple with the aftermath of grief.

Today, McPherson helps other suicide survivors by advocating for mental health with the National Institute of Mental Health and offers up layered, orchestral, melody driven masterpieces.

Casey’s father suffered from Bipolar disorder and Mcpherson says he likely also suffers from the disorder. However, Mcpherson’s self-care is so exact, and his heart so open to accepting the beauty and the heartache of bipolar disorder, that he manages without medication.

“Music changes people,” says McPherson. “We’re trying to find happiness in music as opposed to self-destruction,” Indeed.

David Gray on self-care and mental health awareness`

If a young musician asked me whose career to emulate, I’d have no hesitation in answering David Gray. Gray has managed to achieve both commercial and critical success while maintaining an artistic vision. He’s had multiple albums and then none at all for years while he regroups to find his muse. He’s been very poor and very rich, without gaining an attachment to either economic category. He’s been a multi-platinum success and still has more energy and passion on stage than most twenty-year -old performers.

Gray is interested in two things, heart, and art, and when you get him talking about those topics he is a non-stop churn of rapid fire ideas and opinions. Yet, Gray describes himself as a pensive kid, puzzling over questions, ruminating over his life and often caught in his earliest pictures with his hand to his chin, his eyebrows furled, thinking, worrying, and puzzling.

Thank God Gray found art as a way to express himself. He experienced enormous success with his fourth album, White Ladder, in the early 2000’s and moved from near obscurity in the United States to owning one of the best selling songs of the decade, Babylon. Gray says it was a big thing to live through, going from obscurity to ubiquity, and he sees the richness of that success, but also the restrictions of fame.

It has been four years since Gray’s last album, Foundling, and he’s found a new partner, Andy Barlow of trip hop duo Lamb, to help him out of his comfort zone and into a newly expansive creative period.
In the end, it was the joy of hearing his finished sound on Mutineers along with a discovered method for writing and arranging, that helped conquer his demons of doubt.

Here, in this incredible interview with Sheila Hamilton of Kink and Logan Lynn of Trillium Family Services, David Gray talks about how he uses music to keep his finely tuned equilibrium in working order, and why it is so important for artists to pay attention to our bearings. “Artists. We’re all a bit mental,” says Gray, laughing. “And all of us suffer. It’s how we cope that matters.”

Thanks to @TrilliumFamilyServices for sponsoring this @SkypeLounge interview with David Gray and for its #KeepOregonWell campaign, encouraging you to find out more about fighting stigma at

Demand Hope. Demand Recovery. Nothing less than life will do.

I hosted a public celebration at Pioneer Courthouse Square to mark the end of a hugely successful fundraising campaign for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. The Phil and Penny Knight Foundation challenged Oregonians to raise $500 million dollars to fight cancer. Make that goal in two years, Knight said, and his foundation would match the giving. OHSU raised the money in a record sixteen months, with 85% of the giving coming from within Oregon. We made it. It was a moving and emotional experience to learn of the remarkable breakthroughs in saving the lives of people diagnosed with cancer, and to imagine the gains that will accrue after a one billion dollar investment in cancer detection and prevention.

In nearly every area of public health, startling improvements are being made. If research on cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes has proven anything, it is that research investments save lives. As Dr. Brian Druker pointed out, research dollars devoted to leukemia allowed him to create a lifesaving drug, Gleevec, which has revolutionized the quest for a cancer cure and saved countless lives.

Sheila Hamilton, Mark Ganz, Ceo of Cambia Health Solutions, Oregon Governor Kate Brown

Sheila Hamilton, Mark Ganz, Ceo of Cambia Health Solutions, Oregon Governor Kate Brown

Now, let’s look at the tenth leading cause of death. Suicide. In 2014, 41,000 people died by suicide, and yet, public and private investments in research are meager, according to the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Research Efforts 2008-2013 Portfolio Analysis. Unlike other causes of death, the suicide rate has shown no decline over the last fifty years. Overall, Americans are now more likely to die by suicide than in an automobile accident. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens ages 15-34. And the rate of suicide among middle-aged Americans has increased by 30% since 1999.

What is most perplexing is the accepted rate of failure. Many people who die by suicide are under the care of physicians. In the month before their death by suicide, about half saw a general practitioner. According to the National Alliance for Suicide Prevention, thirty percent of those who die by suicide saw a mental health professional. Health care professionals often fail to ask about suicide risk because they were never trained to or they don’t know how to recognize suicide warning signs.

If we could improve suicide identification and care in primary settings, or in emergency departments, where most people go when they are feeling suicidal, we would have the potential to save lives. If we adopted the expectation of recovery in care settings, we could save lives. If we invested in the prevention of suicide like we invest in the prevention of heart disease and cancer, we could save lives. We know this because we are watching the rate of suicide decline in other countries that have made suicide prevention a priority.

41,000 lives a year are in the balance.

The dedicated folks at OHSU have a great saying. “We fight cancer differently. We win.”
Imagine a similar phrase for the prevention of suicide. “Demand Hope. Demand Recovery. Nothing less than life will do.”