CONTENT WARNING: the following article discusses suicide.
In tragic news, the heavy music community has lost yet another one of its own to suicide.
Jill Janus of Californian metal act Huntress took her own life earlier this week in Oregon, following a long battle with mental illness.
“It is with crushed hearts that we announce that Jill Janus—frontwoman for the California heavy metal band Huntress—passed away on Tuesday, August 14”, her band confirmed in a Facebook post.
“A long-time sufferer of mental illness, she took her own life outside of Portland, Oregon. Janus spoke publicly about these challenges in hopes of guiding others to address and overcome their mental illness.”
Their statement continues: “Janus was a truly special creative involved with numerous musical projects including her role as vocalist for female metal/hard rock cover bands TheStarbreakers and Chelsea Girls.
“In addition, Janus was co-composer and creator of an upcoming rock opera with Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Angus Clark and had a decade-long career as NYC DJ Penelope Tuesdae. Her musical career began in childhood.”
Janus’s Huntress bandmate and boyfriend Blake Meahl has also shared his grief, explaining that the pair “spent 9 years together creating a home, having a family and building our passion project Huntress”.
“The devastation of knowing I will never see her again is the most gutting emotion I have ever experienced,” he writes, adding: “I hope you have found the peace that you couldn’t find on this planet”.
As frontwoman of Huntress, which she formed in Los Angeles in 2009, Janus released three full-length albums and shared the stage with metal greats like Motorhead and Lamb of God.
“It started to get dangerous in my early teens. By the time I was 20 and living in Manhattan, it was very, very difficult for me,” she said.
In the wake of Janus’s tragic passing, tributes have been flowing in from across the metal world, with her longtime friend and Halestorm frontwoman Lzzy Hale calling for more openness about mental health.
“I’d like to take a moment to state again how important it is to talk about mental health, and remind all of you out there battling demons that you are not alone,” she wrote on Instagram.
“I have to navigate my own dark labyrinth and I turn to music and writing for my lifeline. I want to encourage you to keep searching for your lifeline, something that makes you happy. It doesn’t matter if no one gets it but you… that’s okay!
“We need to stop trying to live up to expectations that society places in front of us to make us feel unworthy of love, beauty and success,” Hale continues. “We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. We need to stop trying to be ‘normal.’ And we need to stop being quiet about our mental well-being.
“Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re broken. And if you don’t know how to ask for help, that’s okay too. Those of us who have a shoulder will let you lean on it! We are all in this life together. For those of you with the ability to lend a hand or and ear, DO IT! We have a responsibility to help each other, ‘cuz everything we say, do and touch affects the whole race. We are all connected.”
Hale concluded: “To Jill, my sister of scream, I hope wherever you are, you have found the peace that you couldn’t here.
“My deepest sympathies go out to Jill’s family and her band HUNTRESS during this time.”
RIP Jill Janus.
If you or anyone you know needs help or information regarding mental health, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.