Photo Courtesy of Matthew Smith

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Music has always been a part of Ashad Mitchell’s life.

  • Kvng Shad became depressed after losing his brother to suicide
  • He used music for therapy, opening up about his experience in his song "Depression"
  • His music helped him and his family deal with depression

But after his brother and best friend killed himself, it became his lifeline.

The 18-year-old Columbus rapper goes by Kvng “King” Shad—the "v" standing for victorious— echoing the battle he won with depression after losing his brother.

“That was my best friend, ride or die, everything. Everything I did, I did with him,” said Shad.

Asyrus Mitchell died by suicide in August of 2017.

Before Mitchell’s passing, his mother Raisheda Angus could tell there was something different about her eldest son.

"Asyrus was drowning in depression and anxiety issues,” said Angus. “There were some episodes that took place before he took his life. It’s very hard to talk about his situation because we have mixed feelings, and people have mixed feelings about his death. Asyrus shot himself in his head.”

He entire family felt the effects of depression.

“Well, when I lost my son, I was doing music with him,” said William Crowder, Shad's father. “So, when that situation happened, when he was gone, I had an empty spot."

"So, I was really dealing with depression real bad. I didn’t have thirst to eat. I didn’t wanna go nowhere, I felt like I was worthless. I felt like I couldn’t do nothing no more, like a part of me was gone,” said Crowder.

The pain didn't stop for Shad, as his close friend Ja'Shaun Lightfoot also died tragically a month later.

He was 16.

"Heartbreak, after heartbreak, that's how it made me feel. It felt like the world was crashing down,” said Shad. “But I knew if I let the world crash, and make me fall down to the ground, ain’t no way I was going to pick myself back up. Ain’t no way."

Shad used music for therapy, opening up about his experience, in his popular song “Depression.”

But he also talks about how he got through such a difficult time in his life, hoping to inspire others with his music.

Shad’s music didn’t just save him, it saved his family.

“When I first heard my son’s song “Depression,” it woke me up. I can do something, I can change. I have to fight this depression, we fight it every day as a family,” said Crowder. “But it's what we do… encourage and strengthen each other through the whole process."

 It inspired them to keep fighting for their own lives, and influenced others to do the same.

“I love the song for the fact that it helps anybody… if you really listen to the lyrics it helps you, how to deal with depression. Not to say ignore it, but how we get through it,” said Crowder.

The number of people he reaches continues to grow, as does his following.

As of May, he had 171,000 fans on Spotify, over one million streams on one of his recent songs, and was nominated for the Independent Music Award for best rap/hip-hop album.

"If you’re going through this, pick yourself up. I know life can be rough, but you have to make it shine,” said Shad.

Shad found a way to find light in life.  His family hopes to inspire others going through difficult times.

"If you know somebody please get them help,” said Angus. “Mental health awareness is very important and it’s devastating and it can change lives. We lost someone that we love. We missed the signs, we dropped the ball and we want to make sure that we don’t drop the ball with anyone else."

“I know if I could change one person's life then it’s like a domino effect,” said Shad. “It’s unstoppable, it’s a circulation of love. If I preach love to that person, then hopefully I can change that person's life and make him preach love to the next individual.”

If you, a loved one, or someone you know is suffering from anxiety and depression, or expressing the signs, do not hesitate to get help. It can be the difference of someone’s life.

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, warning signs of someone who may be at risk include increase in use of alcohol or drugs, and acting anxious or agitated.

Other signs to look for are withdrawing or isolating themselves, showing rage and extreme moods swings.

The Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-8255.

A list of local crisis centers can be found here.