Mother determined to use rock star son's ‘voice’ to champion mental health

The mother of Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison believes he could be alive today if he had access to appropriate mental health support services.

Marion Hutchison said she thought he would have had a “good chance” of better coping with episodes of anxiety, depression and fear.

Scott-Hutchison
Marion Hutchison and her family are determined to use the "voice" that the Frightened Rabbit frontman has given them to campaign for better mental health services. Scott Hutchison by Michelle Shiers.

The retired teacher said his tragic death by suicide in May 2018 at the age of 36 inspired her family to set up a charity called Tiny Changes to help young people struggling with their mental health.

She added that she and her sons, Neil and Grant, and their team were determined to “use the voice” that Scott gave them to call for better support services across the country which are arguably needed more than ever due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Mrs Hutchison shared her thoughts in the latest episode of It’s a Fair Question with Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly.

He highlighted official figures that showed there were 784 probable suicides in Scotland in 2018 of which 581 were men.

Creative, good humoured and kind

Mrs Hutchison said: “Scott was probably best known as the lead singer, songwriter of the Scottish band, Frightened Rabbit.

“But to me and to his family and to his close friends, he was just the most creative, the funniest, the most honest and the kindest person that I've ever met."

Mrs Hutchison said her middle son felt safe, secure and loved in the family home while growing up but found social situations difficult.

“Scott was certainly in quite a dark place during the last couple of months of his life but the rest of the time he wasn't, it was intermittent," she added.

“He had a great life and he followed his dream, he reached out to people and it's just so sad that he didn't have the help, he didn't know where to go.

“If Scott had got the help when he needed it and had somewhere to go in his head or physically when he was struggling, I believe that he would have had a good chance.”

Marion-Hutchison
Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair and Marion Hutchison

Mrs Hutchison raised her three sons with their father in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders and said the family were sustained after he went missing by the outpouring of love and support from the fans.

Dr Fair is a big fan of the indie rock band and said he was left “devastated” after Scott took his own life.

He decided he could no longer stand idly by and do nothing and last year oversaw the rollout of three mental health support services at St Andrew’s Parish Church in Arbroath, Angus where he is the minister.

The community choir, a therapeutic garden and a drop-in service is delivered by the congregation’s social action project, Havilah.

Courage and commitment

Dr Fair said: “‘I have nothing but admiration for Marion - her courage in the face of such a tragedy and her commitment to see things change.

“COVID-19 has had a serious detrimental effect on mental health and we need statutory and voluntary services like Tiny Changes like never before.

‘The name of the charity is inspired by a Frightened Rabbit song lyric which reads ‘While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth.”

“Just imagine all of us being more aware, doing something to make a difference.

“Lots of tiny changes add up to big change.”

For help and support contact The Samaritans on 116 123 for free.

The Scottish Association for Mental Health