Nick de la Hoyde on the dark side of social media: “I never copy and paste a help message.”
This article discusses depression, self-harm and suicide.
Nick de la Hoyde is as invested in the personal lives of his social following as they are in his.
“I always tell everyone that I feel that I’m kind of like a psychologist to my fans sometimes because I’m trying to help them through their stuff,” he says.
As an Australian singer-songwriter with over 414,000 Instagram followers, his fans on social media have been a moving force behind his success.
But when he started receiving direct messages about their depression and suicidal thoughts, Nick realised he was also in a position of responsibility.
“It was weird; the more I gave back, the more came along,” he says, “but you gotta be careful of how much you give to them, because then they rely on it, and then if you’re not always there to message back, then it becomes a difficult situation.”
Initially, Nick wasn’t sure how to respond to his fans.
“I showed my parents and was like, ‘What am I supposed to do? I don’t know anything about this.’
“My parents were like, ‘Oh my God.’ And some of these are intense.
“I had one fan who was set that they were going to kill themselves, so I just didn’t know what to do.”
Nick began to reply; short messages to people who were sharing their insecurities – “I’ll tell them that I’m going through something, that we can relate,” – and longer messages to those who were really struggling.
“The ones that are really intense, I’ll send a really big message about reasons to not [kill themselves], and to be happy, and then I’ll send them a helpline number, depending on their country,” he explains.
Nick doesn’t have a standard message for these situations, choosing instead to write each one individually.
“I never copy and paste a help message.
“It’s a lot of responsibility, but I guess it’s helped me think less about my problems, and move on to theirs… So, I guess that’s kind of a positive thing for me,” he shares.
His latest single, Mirror Mirror, sees Nick opening up about his own insecurities, hoping that by allowing his vulnerabilities to show through, his following might start to feel less isolated in their experiences.
For the video clip, he reached back out to his fans to share their stories. “I thought it would be a nice thing to have them feel like they’re not alone when it comes to being insecure.”
Video submissions came flooding in, with young fans sharing their insecurities; their nose, their weight, their intelligence.
“The most difficult to see were the self-harm ones because that’s intense,” he says, referencing a number of submissions which showed fans who were conscious of their self-harm scars.
“The appearance ones, I think, are really bad because obviously they’re getting teased for it.
“I couldn’t believe the response I got. I thought that I’d get one or two videos of people that had the guts to actually send me one, but they just kept coming through. It was insane.”
Nick found many of the stories his fans were sharing difficult to watch.
“It was a really emotional time for me to get into videos because I was getting them from young girls – one of them looked like she was not even 10 years old, and she was insecure about the bags under her eyes. And it’s just like, what on Earth? Who bullies her about that, at that age? It’s just so sad.
“But it was good to know that even though they’re insecure about that, they can still unite and try and overcome it in a way. And I like to think that by getting them involved it helps them start a conversation.”
As an ambassador for R U OK?, starting a conversation is exactly what Nick is continuing to do through his music and connecting with his fans.
But it does raise the question of the personal impact on artists.
While fans often idolise musicians as people they can turn to for help, on the other side of those messages is a person who may be ill-equipped to give advice, or carry the burden of so many cries for help.
Nick says he has the support of his friends and family, and enjoys helping his fans, and is aware that at one point it could all become too much.
In the meantime, his advice to other artists receiving similar messages is to “actually spend time answering, because the people that are opening up like that are probably your biggest fans.”
R U OK?’s tips for responding to anyone going through a tough time:
It’s important to respond to any comments on your posts or private messages in a supportive manner.
If anyone seems like they’re struggling with life, encourage them to connect with an R U OK? crisis support partner listed here.
There are services for all ages and issues, ranging from addiction, gambling, suicide, mental health struggles, LQBTQI services, children’s helplines, grief, trauma, abuse and relationship breakdown.
I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling. Please make sure that you continue to reach out to friends and loved ones for support. If you feel you need more help, please see a GP or contact a relevant crisis support service. Lifeline offer free 24/7 telephone counselling and crisis support on 13 11 14. You can find other supports here: https://www.ruok.org.au/findhelp.”
Responding to someone in crisis:
I really feel for you at this time and encourage you to seek help. Professional and expert support is the best solution. I really urge you to call Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. This service is staffed by professional counsellors and they’ll work with you now and into the future. It’s a free service and it’s available 24/7.”
More helpline contacts:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Support Act Wellbeing Helpline: 1800 959 500