Wayne Carter

Dallas Musician Shares His Teenage Struggle With Suicidal Thoughts

Man says he's been liberated by music and that it saved his life

Some call it rap, but for Dallas-native Tye Harris, his music is therapy.

"It's documentation of my feelings, every lyric, every key, every cord," said Harris.

His music documents his life, his struggles, growing up in Oak Cliff. He said he started to feel the pressure here at Atwell Middle School in Red Bird.

"Some of the stuff we were going through in middle school, other people went through in college," Harris said.

He got into fights on campus while trying to grasp the material in school and dealing with family struggles at home.

"For some reason I felt like the world was fixing to end for me. It had to do probably with what was going around in my environment at the time. I'm going to say it, I had just witnessed someone get killed, right in front of me," said Harris.

"At first, I was numb to it and then I started to have little visions, little voices would tell me I was probably going to be next."

Tye said many minority families grow up struggling financially, causing pressure, especially for boys, to grow up and provide for their families.

Stereotypically, men are not allowed to be weak. That belief can be even more pronounced in some minority groups.

"We can't vent, black men period, we can't vent to nobody," said Harris.

"If we vent to our mommas or vent to anybody in our families, especially around my middle school time, it was weak, it was some 'white boy' stuff."

Therapist Danny Ross has heard it before. Ross works with children on a school campus in Keller ISD. He specializes in counseling for black men out of his Arlington office.

He came up with the idea after seeing an increasing number of minority boys and teens under immense pressure and he knows it from his own life.

"I've been given the message early on, you have to work twice as hard. Great message, but what's enough?" questioned Ross.

In some neighborhoods, children of color struggle with crime and poverty. In other communities, they're trying to settle in, go on dates, and succeed in schools where other students don't look like them.

Often, they're taught to just be strong, pray. They're rarely brought to therapy, when they're crying out for help.

"I think it's part of culture, there have been so many messages that have been passed on from generation to generation that have made it not OK. Being in therapy means that I need help, that I'm broken that I'm messed up. That it can make me look weak," said Ross.

There's that word again, weak.

"I always had this little weird vibe to me," said Harris.

"In middle school I got my first taste of rock music and Korn. I got my first taste of classical music and, man, the calmness it brought over me."

As much as he loved that music, pressures for what's the norm led him to this stage as a rapper.

Some of his lyrics we can't repeat, but others, they bare his soul talking about the medications he took, the pain he felt.

"It's just basically my open diary. It's me venting. It's the healthiest way to vent for me," said Harris.

He said when he walks off the stage he feels liberated, like he achieved something.

"Music got me," he said, "Music definitely saved my life."

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