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Lily Cornell Silver, daughter of Soundgarden frontman, launches IGTV series to explore mental health

UPDATED: Sun., Aug. 2, 2020

By Nicole Brodeur The Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Let’s get the difficult part out of the way.

In 2017, Lily Cornell Silver’s father, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, killed himself in a Detroit hotel room, leaving her and everyone else who loved him – be they family, friends or a drop in his ocean of fans – devastated.

In the time since, Silver, now 20, has worked hard to manage the resulting anxiety and depression – illnesses that she knows well, and knows she shares with others.

So on July 20, on what would have been her father’s 56th birthday, Silver launched “Mind Wide Open,” a weekly, one-hour talk show focused on mental health that posts on IGTV every Monday.

“The audience is everybody, and specifically, a young person,” Silver said from her home in West Seattle, where she lives with her mother, rock manager Susan Silver.

“Younger people who can be taught from a young age that mental health doesn’t need to be stigmatized. I want it to be accessible as possible.”

At the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, Silver came home from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., where she was studying media and psychology, and isolated with her mother. It had a “huge impact” on her mental health, she said.

“It’s already an anxiety-inducing situation,” she said, “and then being away from my school community made my depression a lot worse,” Silver said. “I was having a hard time finding an outlet for that.

“Suddenly you’re in quarantine, and your support system is gone,” she added. “Being around people is such a coping mechanism for me.”

So she decided to gather people around her – experts on mental health and those who have lived with mental illness – and record their conversations with an IGTV tilt toward younger people.

Silver is aware of her privilege and that some people might tune in just to catch any crumb of personal information she might drop. And that’s OK. She has nothing to hide or to feel bad about.

“My mom worked hard to make sure that I had a normal childhood,” Silver said, “and cultivated an environment where I never felt ashamed or worried about sharing my feelings.

“I will tell anybody anything,” Silver said, “especially when it comes to mental health.”

The first episode was a conversation with Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, the founder and director of the Trauma Stewardship Institute and author of two books: “Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others,” and “The Age of Overwhelm.”

The second episode, which aired July 27, featured Dr. Marc Brackett of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the author of the bestselling book on Social/Emotional Intelligence, “Permission to Feel.”

Silver has “a very big list” of potential guests composed of a mix of mental-health professionals and people from the music and entertainment worlds.

Model Sir Carter – who calls himself “Sir the Star” and has 1.6 million followers on TikTok – will be part of an upcoming show.

“I’m excited to bring in more peers and more people my age,” Silver said.

She is aware of her access to people and the fact that her name alone has drawn attention to her show that others might not receive.

It’s the same with her friend Olivia Vedder, the 16-year-old daughter of Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, who in August is launching an IGTV project about issues including climate change and voting.

One of Silver’s upcoming guests is Duff McKagan, the bassist for Guns N’ Roses.

“We were born with a platform handed to us on a silver platter,” Silver said. “In my opinion, you have a responsibility. So much of the time, people use it recklessly or for self-promotion. It feels like a moral duty for me to use it to help other people.”

The bonus: Those who are suffering will see that those they look up to have spent time in the same dark places they have.

“It will help people see, ‘Here is someone I really admire, and they struggle with the same things as me,’ ” Silver said. “That will help toward being seen and validated. “

Instagram limits videos to an hour, so Silver is learning to be focused and succinct. She is working with the Seattle-based production company Clatter and Din to edit and post.

“I feel really good doing this project, which was born from feeling bad,” she said. “I was feeling super isolated and out of the college enviroment and wondering what I was feeling passionate about.

“So I wanted to create something that was helpful for me and helpful to a lot of other people.”

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