The singer mourned the loss of her friend in a touching post calling for a cultural shift on how we talk about mental health issues.
Lady Gaga is mourning the death of her friend, model Rick Genest, with an impassioned message about mental health.
The singer took to Twitter on Thursday to share the tragic news that Genest, who modeled under the name Zombie Boy and starred in her acclaimed "Born This Way" music video, had reportedly died by suicide at age 32.
"The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating. We have to work harder to change the culture, bring Mental Health to the forefront and erase the stigma that we can’t talk about it," the artist wrote, alongside a number of photos of the famously tattoo-covered Genest.
"If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other," she continued.
Gaga went on to pen a heartfelt plea for those who are struggling with depression and other mental health issues to seek help, and for those around them to reach out.
"Science tells us that it takes 21 days to form a habit, if you are suffering from Mental Health issue I beckon for today to be your first day or a continuation of the work you’ve been doing," she wrote. "Reach out if you’re in pain, and if you know someone who is, reach out to them too."
Genest, who got his first tattoo when he was 16, earned the moniker Zombie Boy for the astounding number of tattoos that covered him from head to toe. Genest actually held two Guinness Book of World Records related to his body art, including "Most Insects Tattooed on the Body" and "Most Bones Tattooed on the Body."
Genest had been open about his difficult life in the past, including his diagnosis of a brain tumor when he was a teenager that lead to brain surgery, which had devastating consequences on his mental health.
Genest's breakthrough in modeling came in 2010 when he was given his first major job by Lady Gaga’s stylist Nicola Formichetti, who was also the creative director for fashion designer Thierry Mugler. Before his death, he was collaborating with former Rob Zombie guitarist Mike Riggs on an album of original songs penned by Genest.
He is survived by his parents, Roch Genest and Catheryne Chappelle, and two younger siblings.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).