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How the suicide of troubled young rapper Lumo galvanised a hip-hop community into spreading the word about mental health

10 May 2019

In 2017, aged 21, Calum Barnes took his own life. The Glasgow rapper, also known as Lumo, was a popular figure on the city's hip-hop scene, but privately he was deeply troubled.

There wasn’t the cry for help that everyone expects
Jenn Barnes

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland in 2018, his sister Jenn Barnes revealed that she knew Calum had suffered from depression, but had no idea it would lead him to suicide.

“There wasn’t a trigger point,” said Jenn. “There wasn’t the cry for help that everyone expects before this sort of thing happens.”

In Lumo: Too Young To Die, Calum’s battles with his mental health are documented through his own video diaries, discovered after his death.

Documentary inspired by the life of Glasgow hip hop star Calum Barnes

John Beattie spoke to sister of Calum Barnes, Jenn, and documentary maker Hannah Currie

Stories like Calum’s are not uncommon; suicide is the biggest killer of young men in the UK.

We felt we had to do something to honour him
A Macc

But his death stunned Glasgow’s hip-hop community, and Calum’s friends from the scene were both angry and upset that he hadn’t reached out to them in his darkest moments.

After the initial shock, however, those who knew and loved him began to take action.

“We felt we had to do something to honour him,” said A Macc from Calum’s former crew Deadsoundz, who wrote and recorded a track to raise awareness of suicide. Fellow member Subz has become a support worker for young people affected by mental health issues. “I’m doing it for him,” he explained.

Jenn has also been spurred into action following Calum’s death; she now works as an ambassador for the Scottish Association for Mental Heath.

“You don’t want anyone else to have feel like this, and you don’t want anyone who’s feeling like that to end up the way that he did,” she said.

On BBC iPlayer

Lumo’s disappearance

Lumo’s family and friends recount the night he went missing

Family and friends of rapper Lumo become increasingly desperate after he goes missing.

Lumo on Front Seat Freestyle

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