Editor’s note: This story contains discussions of suicide, and may be an emotional trigger for some. Scott shared personal details about a family tragedy that is a part of the journey she’s on today. Reader discretion is advised.
Kristen Scott still remembers being angry, confused and wondering why her husband, Ira, wouldn’t have said anything to her.
Four years ago, she was attending a fundraiser for a student of hers headed to the Julliard School. The kids were with her husband. Ira had put their three-year-old daughter to bed and left their five-year-old son on the couch in front of the TV.
He then went downstairs and hanged himself.
Scott, a Calgary-based singer, songwriter and teacher is now raising awareness for mental health and suicide prevention with a new single and video release called I Feel Nothing, Nothing At All.
Her son had come out to the garage, crying, saying that “daddy had died,” Scott recalled. She dialed 911, thinking that it was some sort of accident. Then she discovered her husband.
Scott took her son from the home, then realized her daughter was inside. She was scared something may have happened to her but she was later found safe.
“It left me with a lot of PTSD, a lot of fear, a lot of trauma, a lot of what-ifs and a lot of anger,” Scott told LiveWire Calgary.
For the first couple of years after, she continued living her life; she was teaching piano, singing – particularly Christmas carols, which she loves.
“But I was so angry and mad at him and in so much shock and confused why he wasn’t saying anything,” Scott said.
On top of her husband’s death, her mom died four months later. Perhaps of heartbreak, Scott said, not having had time to grieve Ira’s death.
Music as an emotional outlet
Scott said she’s thankful that music and teaching are her life. She’s an award-winning Royal Conservatory of Music Elementary and Intermediate Voice, Piano, and Theory Specialist and teaches voice and piano.
“That’s just joy, and the emotional outlet of speaking your thoughts and emotions,” she said.
The songs and writing provided a process for her to grieve. She’d done a lullaby for her son and a spiritual song for her daughter.
“There’s a lot of writing that people don’t hear, obviously, that people, composers write that people never hear,” she said.
“It’s just basically singing about your emotions and stuff.”
After Ira died, Scott would write sad songs, conversations with her late husband. She would share her feelings with him and how broken her heart was.
“I wouldn’t ever share those with anybody,” she said.
That process is how I Feel Nothing, Nothing at All came to be.
‘I took it more personally’
Scott still thinks about the warning signs she missed.
“I didn’t see that he slowly didn’t have a shower for a week or he wasn’t sleeping at night – that’s insomnia,” she said.
“These are signs of depression that I kind of missed, because they crept up on him slowly. And he took his life pretty fast.”
The song title comes from something Ira said to her in the weeks leading up to his death.
“That’s why Nothing At All came out, because that’s what he said to me, ‘I feel nothing,’” Scott said.
“I took it more personally, that he didn’t love me, that he didn’t love the kids.”
The song is that conversation with him, the questions she has. The healing.
“It made me see his mental illnesses differently than, ‘he did this on purpose,’” she said.
Scott is hoping that the release of the single and the video will prompt others to ask questions, to raise awareness and to show support for loved ones with depression or other mental illnesses.
She said that people she’s met through her teaching – 60 students per week – have told her they’ve had suicidal ideation, they’re dealing with depression or anxiety, or they’re on a medication to help.
“We all have our struggles, we are all suffering from something, dealing with so much. Everybody in their life is going to have pain, struggles and loss,” she said.
The song reflects the lack of answers she desires, but ones that will never come. It’s about releasing that and moving forward.
“I wish there was a letter. I wish there was something. So, (the song) is like me, I’m talking to him waiting for these answers,” she said.
“But the answer is that he was suffering an internal battle that I don’t understand but a lot of people are suffering from.”
Scott said she wants to speak up about mental health. She said she doesn’t shy away from being asked questions about it.
“I want to tell our story, my story,” she said.
“I wish there was more write ups about people’s experience of losing their husband or son or family member to suicide.”
Scott is hoping that when people listen to the song or watch the video that they’ll reflect on their own lives. Especially men. They die three times more often than women as a result of suicide. Middle-aged men die by suicide most often, according to Statistics Canada.
“The main idea of the whole song in the end is just showing someone because it doesn’t matter if they have their children, and wife and living a happy life,” she said.
“What people see on the outside is not even close to what people are dealing with inside or behind closed doors in the home.”
For survivors out there, she wants to listen. She wants to show support. For four years she was silent, Scott said.
“Hopefully, I can start telling my story or helping others to show people like ‘Hey, speak up, or does this look like your life at all, or your partner, or yourself,” Scott said.
If you or someone you know needs help dealing with depression or mental health concerns, here are some resources.
- If it’s an emergency, call 911
- Distress Centre Calgary – 24 hours – 403-266-HELP (4357)
- Mental Health Helpline – 1-877-303-2642
- Call 211 Alberta