The heavily tattooed artist, actor and model was found dead at his apartment in Montreal on Wednesday in what Gaga says was suicide. He was 32.
Following his death, the ‘Poker Face’ singer tweeted to speak of her heartbreak and call for improved awareness around mental health.
She said: “The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating. We have to work harder to change the culture, bring Mental Health to the forefront and erase the stigma that we can’t talk about it.”
Gaga added: “If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other.”
Alongside several black and white photographs of them together, Gaga shared in another tweet, “Science tells us that it takes 21 days to form a habit, if you are suffering from Mental Health issue I beckon for today to be your first day or a continuation of the work you’ve been doing. Reach out if you’re in pain, and if you know someone who is, reach out to them too.”
Genest was famous for his head-to-toe tattoos and living skeleton appearance, and featured heavily in the video for Lady Gaga’s worldwide hit ‘Born This Way’ in 2011.
He forged a successful career in the modeling industry after being first cast in a Thierry Mugler campaign. He went on to appear in Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair. He also became L’Oreal’s first male spokesperson.
Rick’s management posted a tribute on Facebook, saying they were “shocked and pained” by his death.
“Rico was loved by all those who had the chance to meet him and know him,” the post reads.
“We received the unfortunate news at the beginning of the afternoon and members of the team have come to support his family and relatives in this dark and difficult moment.
“We want to present our deepest condolences... Thank you zb for these beautiful moments in your company and for your radiant smile.”
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org