Derek Hough Debuts Music Video About Mental Health, Suicide Prevention

By David Konow 11/13/17

Hough says the death of Chester Bennington affected him deeply and gave him a push to get the song out into the world.

Derek Hough in a still from "Hold On"
a still from Hough's new music video "Hold On" Photo via YouTube

Derek Hough, a veteran of Dancing With the Stars and a judge on World of Dance, is now taking a more serious turn for his new single, "Hold On," which has a strong anti-suicide message.

In the video for "Hold On," Hough plays a veteran struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Kayla Elwell (The Vampire Diaries) plays a woman trying to come to terms with losing a child.

In the video, the two people come together, and keep each other alive through their traumas. The video begins with a title card that says: “Sometimes we think we want to disappear, but all we really want is to be found.”

(Warning: This video contains triggering imagery such as a suicide attempt and drug abuse.) 

Hough created this video in conjunction with the Movember Foundation, which raises awareness for men’s mental health issues. As Hough tells Billboard, depression and suicide is “something very important to me, it’s very personal to me.” Hough wrote the song for a friend who was struggling.

Hough also revealed that he had an uncle who committed suicide. “I witnessed that firsthand,” Hough continues. “To see what it did to the family and the people around us, it’s very traumatic.”

Like many, Hough was also hit hard by the suicide of Chester Bennington, and it gave him a strong push to get "Hold On" out into the world. “It seems to be something that’s becoming more common, especially with men. When I actually dove into the statistics of it, it was even more staggering. 500,000 men a year are taking their own lives, and three out of four suicides are men.”

Hough addressed the way men are raised to deal with emotions and depressions. He says that there is an expectation to "tough it out"—or come across as someone who is "weak and vulnerable."

Hough adds, "I think that’s the traditional masculine mindset that we need to sort of be rid of, where we can actually feel like there’s a safe place for me to go out and talk and not feel ashamed... I think that’s the soul-crushing emotion that can consume a lot of these men, is that shame. I feel like once they can talk about that, that will shrink.”

Ultimately, when writing "Hold On" and creating its powerful video, Hough says he "just wanted to put something out there that hopefully will trigger a conversation.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.