Personal lives are messy, mental illness is a beast, and navigating either one is difficult enough for people who aren’t in the social media spotlight 24 hours a day. It’s humanity’s lot to spend some portion of our time—most of it, even—blundering around in a wilderness of pain, and it’s a blessing for most of us that our personal struggles don’t get boiled down to stories about the celebs being at it again for the supposed benefit of the general public. Count your blessing, then, because the celebs are indeed at it again.
Here’s the Cliffs Notes version: Kanye West is feuding with Drake, a spat Ariana Grande alluded to while promoting her new single. West didn’t take kindly to that and tweeted a thread about how it was no longer OK to make fun of mental illness. Grande’s ex, comedian Pete Davidson, praised West for speaking out about mental health; Davidson’s comments seemed to include a backhanded swipe at Grande, which Grande’s fans didn’t like. A few minutes of online abuse later, Davidson posted a note that led people to believe he was suicidal, then deleted his Instagram account entirely. Grande rushed to the studios where Saturday Night Live was rehearsing, and so did an NYPD officer; Davidson was at work and is apparently OK, or as OK as anyone can be living in public. Want a more detailed account of a low moment in the lives of several complete strangers? Feast your eyes, glut your soul on the tweet that started Saturday’s whole mess:
Over the course of several tweets, West explained the specifics of his feud with Drake, while broadening his critique of Grande to discuss the stigmatization of mental illness, a serious issue that seems to only enter the public consciousness when the celebs are at it:
Baked into West’s argument, however, was the old canard about suffering for one’s art; West believes that his best work would have been impossible if he’d been treating his mental illness, and that after “6 months off meds I can feel me again.” That’s not a recipe for more great art so much as it’s a recipe for more dead artists, and it’s irresponsible for someone of West’s stature to make the people who look up to him think they have to choose between achieving great things and taking care of their own health:
West ended with a since-deleted tweet calling out Ariana Grande again:
All of this foolishness weighed on my mental health so @ArianaGrande you know I got love for you but until you’re ready to really make sure everyone’s ok don’t use me or this moment to promote a song.
Grande apologized to West in another since-deleted tweet:
with all due respect, i don’t need to use anyone to promote anything. period. i was making a comment ab what men were doing at the time vs. women. it was a joke which i understand now was probably insensitive. i apologize if i was in any way triggering and hope u feel well today.
Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson has a history with Kanye West and the politics of discussing mental illness in public: In October, a week after West gave the SNL cast an unplanned speech about Donald Trump, Davidson, who has been public about his own struggles with mental health, addressed West directly on Saturday Night Live, urging him to get back on his meds:
Kanye, I know you’re like, “Yo, this is the real me. I’m off the meds.” Take ’em. There’s no shame in the medicine game. I’m on them. It’s great! Take ’em. There’s nothing wrong with taking them. If I got on a plane and the pilot said, “I just want all of you to know: This is the real me flying the plane,” I’d jump out. Being mentally ill is not an excuse to act like a jackass.
Davidson, you might recall, also has a history with Ariana Grande; the two were engaged after a whirlwind romance but broke up in October, a week after Davidson’s comments on West. Since then, both Davidson and Grande have faced the wrath of their respective online fan bases over the split, leading Davidson to post a few weeks back about the online bullying he’d been experiencing, reportedly after a waiter put Grande’s song about their breakup, “thank u, next,” on at a restaurant where he was eating while filming his response on a phone:
I’ve been getting online bullied and in public for nine months. I’ve spoken about BPD and being suicidal publicly only in the hopes that it will bring awareness and help kids like myself who don’t want to be on this earth. I just want you guys to know. No matter how hard the internet or anyone tries to make me kill myself, I won’t.
It’s hard to see Davidson’s decision to praise Kanye West Saturday morning outside of the context of his relationship with Grande, especially since Davidson indirectly seemed to endorse the same “no meds” stance he made fun of West for a short time ago. Here’s what he wrote:
Bravo Kanye West for standing up for yourself and speaking out against mental health. I can’t explain to you enough how difficult and scary it is to be honest about stuff like this. We need people like Kayne. No one should ever point fingers at you for your bravery in speaking about mental health. I’m seriously disgusted.
Things went downhill from there. A few minutes later, the comedian posted an alarming note to Instagram that landed somewhere in the gray area between cry for help and suicide note:
i really don’t want to be on this earth anymore. i’m doing my best to stay here for you but i actually don’t know how much longer i can last. all i’ve ever tried to do was help people. Just remember I told you so ❤️
Shortly thereafter, Davidson deleted his entire Instagram account. Like anyone else who saw it, Grande was alarmed by Davidson’s post, so much so that she apparently went to track him down at Saturday Night Live, tweeting “I’m downstairs and I’m not going anywhere if u need anyone or anything. I know u have everyone u need and that’s not me, but i’m here too.” Asked by a fan why she didn’t just call, Grande made it known that her cell in the celebrity panopticon isn’t any more comfortable than Davidson’s:
i don’t have his number. what else?????????? how else would we like to vilify me today? pls keep going bc i haven’t had enough guilt at all.
The NYPD was also alarmed, and the New York Times reports that they sent an officer to Saturday Night Live’s studio to make sure he was OK. Davidson was at work, rehearsing for Saturday night’s show, and is apparently fine. If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-273-8255.