Chris Stapleton Releases 'Fire Away' Video, Makes Powerful Statement For Mental Health Awareness

Chris Stapleton is known for his ability to capture the raw emotion and grit of everyday life through his music. Now, the country artist is bringing that same ability to the screen. Stapleton chose to use his very first music video to bring awareness to a painful and often misunderstood topic -- mental health.

"Fire Away" is a song about loving someone through all the ups and downs of life. Chris Stapleton's heart wrenching video takes viewers on a journey through a young couple's relationship. The beginning scenes are happy ones as the couple builds their life together. The story then takes a dark turn as the relationship becomes haunted by arguing and the woman, played by actress Margarita Levieva, begins to display signs of deep emotional suffering. The desperate husband struggles to save his wife from the evil grips of mental illness that ultimately leads her to take her own life.

The man, played by actor Ben Foster, seeks to drown his pain in a bar where Chris Stapleton plays the bartender. Foster introduced the Campaign to Change Direction to Chris Stapleton and the idea for the "Fire Away" video was born.

The Campaign to Change Direction aims to bring awareness to mental health and educate people on what it calls the five signs of emotional suffering: withdrawal, agitation, hopelessness, decline in personal care, and change in personality.

The organization's website points out that one in five Americans suffer with a mental health condition, and more people will die from suicide in 2016 than in auto accidents. Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D., Founder and President of Give an Hour, and Huffington Post author, also points out that according to The Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans take their own lives each day.

Van Dahlen commends Chris Stapleton, Ben Foster, Margarita Levieva, and director Tim Mattia for their dedication to the powerful project.

"All of these artists wanted to ensure that they portrayed this sensitive topic accurately, and all believed that by making this video they could realize Chris's vision of using the film to help people who are suffering. The end result of their dedication to their craft and their commitment is stunning."
Dr. Van Dahlen goes on to share her gratitude for the work Chris Stapleton and his "Fire Away" video co-stars have done to bring suicide and mental health awareness to an audience they may have otherwise missed.
"Chris Stapleton's gift will allow us to reach and engage a huge number of people--some we might not have been able to reach otherwise. The video is artistically beautiful and emotionally painful. Some who see "Fire Away" will be reminded of their own struggles; some will most certainly be reminded of loved ones lost to suicide. All will be touched."
The Campaign to Change Direction started a social media movement to encourage an open dialogue around mental illness. The organization asks that you share how you are learning the five signs of emotional pain by taking a selfie with the message "I know the signs," or sharing who you are learning the signs for, or who you are sharing the signs with, on your hand. Post with hashtag #ChangeMentalHealth.

"Fire Away" is from Chris Stapleton's most recent album, Traveller, which won the 2015 Country Music Association Album of the Year Award. The album didn't top the charts until after the CMA victory and Stapleton bringing down the house with a Justin Timberlake duet. Traveller was then launched to No. 1. According to Billboard, that made it the only album to ever re-enter the Billboard 200 in the No. 1 spot.

Judging by the thousands of shares and hundreds of supportive, grateful comments, Chris Stapleton has already touched many lives with his "Fire Away" music video debut.

[Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]