As a statistical minority, there are fewer male eating disorder survivors. Fewer to participate in research, and fewer to speak up and be part of the greater conversation. Losing any of the voices which make up our developing and always-growing online community is a terrible loss, which is why we are deeply saddened by the death of Matt Ryd, a Chicago-based musician and eating disorder activist. Stories about eating disorders in males are still somewhat uncommon; even more uncommon, though, are stories about males dying from their eating disorders. These are not trivial illnesses – they are dangerous and life-threatening disorders, and they must be taken seriously.
Most of us weren’t familiar with his work prior to his death, but his words and the hopeful spirit evident in the videos and writings he left behind have enabled us to celebrate his life and message. He was very public and upfront with the fact that he had struggled for so long, and we’ve no doubt that his honesty has allowed others to come forward and step out of the shame and stigma that so often prevents others, especially men, from admitting they have a problem or seeking treatment.
Here is the statement released by his family on his Facebook page:
Message from Matt’s Parents to all Matt’s wonderful friends and supporters:
It is with very heavy hearts that we must tell you that Matt lost his battle with the anxiety, depression and eating disorder that had consumed him for so long and ended his physical life here on earth on Sunday, August 4th. While Matt fought vigorously for many years, his illnesses had grown more and more debilitating over the past 18 months or so, and though he tried hard not to show it, his daily suffering increased significantly and was ultimately more than he could bear. Our hearts are broken, but we take comfort in the knowledge that he has finally been “Healed” and will suffer no more.
Matt was an amazing young man with many talents, but most importantly he had a sensitive spirit and heart of gold and touched people’s lives all around him. In true Matt Ryd fashion, he left an open message for his friends, fans and others who supported his dream of being a musician that he asked us to share with all of you. His message reads as follows:
“To all the people who have taken time to listen to my music and support my dream, even though it stops here before I become a big shot and get to prove that I won’t lose touch with my frans: Thank you. Thank you for the joy that you brought into my life. Because there have been absolutely no times that I have been happier than when I’ve been onstage, than when I’ve watched comments roll in on YouTube videos, or when I’ve had simple Facebook conversations with people halfway around the world. You are all wonderful and amazing and I thank you so so much for your time and your attention. I’m just happy that I’ve been able to make any impact in your lives. I truly regret that the music has to stop along with me.”
Matt lived to write and play music and was always overwhelmed and humbled by the tremendous support that he received from so many of you. Thank you to all of you for being a part of his life and providing him with such unbridled joy in the midst of all of his struggles. He will be missed greatly by us all, but we think his passion for music will continue on – in the words and lyrics of the other wonderfully talented singer/songwriters that play nightly across the Chicago landscape and beyond – and we know that is what he would want.
There will be a memorial service in a few weeks to celebrate Matt’s life and the music he loved so dearly in a way that he would have wanted. More information will be posted as it is determined. Matt also very humbly requested that any remembrances be made to either ANAD (www.anad.org) or NEDA (www.neda.org) which are two eating disorder support organizations that were important part of Matt’s life for many years.
Thank you again for the part that each of you played in Matt’s life. We will always cherish the happy moments and memories that being a musician provided for Matt over the years.
Steve and Joani Ryd
Wcth the video he made for Eating Disorder Awareness Week in 2012 click here
Below are statements from a few of us in the male eating disorder activist community.
“The initial tribute post I wrote when I first learned of Matt’s death (located
here) has been read and shared over 4,000 times in five days, which alone goes to show what an impact he had on his community. It’s a terrible thing to lose anyone to this mean disease, but the genuine honesty and hope Matt conveyed in his work makes it that much harder.
His message and advocacy will live on in the work he left behind. Myself and others will share him in the work we do and he will continue to inspire others to be their own advocates, to speak for themselves and seek help. My condolences and heart are with his family and everyone in the Chicago community who are grieving his passing.” Matt Wetsel, Eating Disorders Coalition Junior Board
“It’s saddening to hear the loss of Matt following his long battle with depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Our thoughts are with his family and friends who are grieving the loss of a talented individual, who clearly had a commitment and dedication to promote awareness of eating disorders. By highlighting his story, this will undoubetdely help and inspire others to seek help early and go on to live their lives symptom free of eating disorders.
“It’s important that anyone can recover from eating disorders, no matter how complex their symptoms or circumstances. With belief and perseverance you can beat an eating disorder – just believe.” Sam Thomas, MGEDT Founder and Director
“A precious, talented life that must always be remembered. Heartfelt thoughts must go to Matt’s parents, who will no doubt be torn apart. Despite this tradgedy Matt will go on contributing to the lives of others. His personal battle can only support the fight to get earlier and better diagnosis, treatment and support for others.” Ian Sockett, Recovered anorexia sufferer
“Having just read through, and watched the video, I am so so saddened by this news. Obviously this is a story close to all of our hearts and to know another amazing life has ended unnecessarily and prematurely is overwhelmingly sad. I just hope he is in a better place now and at peace.” David J Heffner, Recovered anorexia sufferer
“It is with a heavy heart that another of our own has lost his battle to an eating disorder. However, a battle is never really “lost,” as the person who fought leaves behind a message of courage, hope, and determination for others who struggle.
Matt Ryd, an eating disorder activist, fellow fighter, and amazingly talented musician, dedicated himself to fighting the stigma surrounding eating disorders in men. Matt not only influenced individuals, such as myself, with his work with the National Eating Disorders Associaton (NEDA), he was always emphasizing his love for life, happiness, and those around him in his recovery. Matt’s music was (and is) phenomenal, and will continue to be a source of strength to those still in the midst of their own battle.
On his Facebook page in March, Matt announced he was taking care of himself , remaining brave, strong, and committed to beating his demons. As a tribute to Matt, and to all who are familiar with his story, please, never give up hope.
Matt’s parents were incredibly steadfast during his fight and have shown each of us how important support is during recovery. They have been an incredible example to ‘everybody who knows somebody’ with an eating disorder.
I feel as if this obviously doesn’t need mention, but eating disorders are serious and life-threatening, with the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness. If you know someone who is struggling, please reach-out to them and/or one of the many organizations for help and support.” Troy Roneess, Male Representative for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Junior Board