Lady Gaga is speaking out after the death of Rick Genest, the Montreal model and artist known as Zombie Boy, who reportedly died by suicide Wednesday at 32.
The pop star mourned Genest — the heavily tattooed centerpiece of her acclaimed, seven-minute “Born This Way” video — on Twitter, calling for widespread reform aimed at breaking stigmas surrounding mental illness and “bring[ing] mental health to the forefront.”
“The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating,” Gaga wrote in one tweet. “If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other.”
Genest was found dead in his Montreal apartment yesterday afternoon; according to CBC, police are treating his death as a suicide. The model and artist first entered the public eye because of his extensive body art. At the time of his death, he held a Guinness World Record for most insect tattoos (176) and another for most human bone tattoos (139). He was also a musician, known for collaborations with Rob Zombie guitarist Mike Riggs.
But Genest was certainly best known for his appearance in Gaga’s “Born This Way” video (below), in which his real body art was mirrored via makeup on the singer. British artist Marc Quinn had reportedly been working on an 11.5-foot sculpture of Genest called “Self-Conscious Gene,” to be permanently displayed at the Science Museum, London. It was scheduled to be unveiled next year.
Genest had also become successful in the modeling industry. In 2012, he became the face of the Jay-Z music fashion label Rocawear for its European relaunch. He’d collaborated with magazines GQ Italia and Vanity Fair for shoots, and he walked the runway for Mugler.