Jamie was a vibrant, talented young man, creative and athletic. He was a passionate artist and contributor to the online street art and graffiti community. He had everything to live for and was full of so much exciting potential. So sadly, this potential was cut short far too young when out of the blue he took his life.
Weez is Jamie Bruno’s tag. He developed the iconic image (below) which can be seen around Hong Kong and all over the world, in places he visited and where he shared his stickers with other enthusiasts. Jamie created a number of images which are wide-spread online where he nurtured a keen and interested following.
I can’t tell you about Jamie’s experiences with his own mental health because I didn’t know he was struggling with challenges that would eventually overwhelm him. He did not talk about any stresses, anxieties or problems he was facing.
Life seemed to follow a regular pattern; school, homework, family life, football and to chill, he would create art and design stickers, interacting with the online street art community. To use one of his phrases, all appeared “normal”. Until it was not, and until it was too late.
Jamie’s smile brightened lives. He was deeply loved by so many people who were touched by his energy, creativity and sensitivity. None of us saw through the veneer within which he must have kept everything tightly wrapped up in himself.
Jamie never got the help he needed to deal with his demons. He didn’t ask and no one was able to piece together what was going on in Jamie’s head.
I think of him being in a paradigm. For Jamie, in his mind, this must have been real and happening. Yet, somehow, it gave him a distorted view of the world. Having been engulfed by panic and anxiety, I know how emotions take over and how it is impossible to distinguish the rational from the irrational. On a far greater scale, I think Jamie was in something from he could not break out of; nor could he find a way to get onto even ground. He probably didn’t even recognise that the ground under him was uneven.
The Weez Project has been setup in memory of Jamie Bruno and aims to provide mental health and support for young people in Hong Kong.