Rick Genest (Zombie Boy) in London in 2016. Credit: CPG Photography Ltd/Rex/Shutterstock
Lady Gaga

‘Born This Way’ Model Zombie Boy Rick Genest Dead at 32

Photo by CPG Photography Ltd/Rex/Shutterstock

Rick Genest a.k.a. Zombie Boy, whose career exploded after appearing with Lady Gaga in her “Born This Way” music video, died on Thursday.

The 32-year-old model was found dead at his home in Montreal of an apparent suicide.

“The whole Dulcedo family is shocked and saddened by this tragedy,” said Dulcedo Management, the talent and modeling agency that worked with Genest. “Thank you ZB for these beautiful moments in your company and for your radiant smile.”

Lady Gaga sent her condolences and thoughts to Twitter, where she wrote, “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. If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other.”

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, named after the 2011 hit song and album, focuses on combating stigma against the LGBT community, making safer schools for LGBT youth, and advocating for better mental health awareness.

Genest had spoken publicly about suffering from depression, but just briefly, telling the UK’s Evening Standard in 2012 that “Depression is a strong thing” before deciding not to elaborate.

Last year, the model gave a TedX talk where he described growing up in a small town in Quebec that was plagued with political issues and lacked empathy.

In high school, Genest was bullied endlessly. He felt he was only accepted by and able to fit in with the Goth kids at school. This became another source of stress and anxiety in his life because his parents’ religious beliefs condemned the few friends he found.

“Every day was a battle of final demise, suffering in agony in a world of the ignorant and chipper, bullied by most and befriended by few,” Genest said.

He was also diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 14 and, at age 15, became the second person in North America to survive a groundbreaking surgery that removed the tumor without disfiguring his face. The operation was the first of its kind.

Rick Genest would have turned 33 on August 7.

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