I hate these types of blogs.
These are the pieces I wish I’d never have to write, but given Hidden Talent’s increasing focus on mental health, I don’t feel this issue can go unmentioned.
On 20th July 2017, a musical soul was silenced forever as Chester Bennington – famous as the lead singer for the band Linkin Park – committed suicide by hanging himself. He was only 41.
When I first heard the news from my brother, I could not believe my eyes when I saw the text message. I never expected to hear that name and that act in the same sentence.
I have been listening to Linkin Park’s music for a decade now. What really drew me in were the band’s emotionally expressive lyrics. Depression is like a fog, it clouds your mind and sometimes you have difficulty making sense of it and the world. And sometimes, having something give those feelings a context can help you better understand those emotions and thus, give you a possible means of conquering them. As someone who has occasionally faltered in their ability to find any enjoyment in life, I took occasional strength in those lyrics.
Chester had a gift for this, the band’s lyrics flowing with words of being riddled by one’s anxieties and confronting one’s demons in a world where the odds feel increasingly stacked against them such moving pieces such as “Breaking the Habit”, “Leave Out All The Rest” and “Numb”. These lyrics have inspired a generation, giving them the courage to crawl out of that black pit of depression and find a way through that fog. Living with these demons is a challenge for anyone, but to take those demons and express those emotions out to the entire world, and creating something so moving, so soul-revitalizing… that is an incredible thing.
In light of Chester’s tragic death, these lyrics take on new, deeper meanings as if Chester were describing the pain he felt throughout his life, each performance doubling as an emotional catharsis. The messages carried in Linkin Park’s music their value as an outlet for struggling people has never been greater.
Chester’s death ironically came on the day that would have been Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday. Cornell was famous as the lead vocalist for rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave as well as singing the theme song for the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale “You Know My Name”. He has had a longstanding musical career, having been a pivotal figure in the 1990s grunge movement and has a diverse catalogue of songs and styles to his name. He had done so much for the music industry and should have been able to do so much more. But, it was not to be, as Chris tragically took his own life on May 18 2017, the night after performing at a Soundgarden concert. Chris had been known to suffer from depression throughout his life, but to hear of his passing well before his time from suicide hits you like a knife in the gut.
I don’t know what it was that caused Chester and Chris to go through that final push that would seem them lost forever. And it’s not my place to make those assumptions, but we all know the end result that claimed both of them, perhaps one of the greatest killers civilization has ever known; suicide.
Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell were such beloved figures and the world will mourn them and honor them for all they have done. But there are so many souls out there who struggle with this spectre and yet suffer in silence.
For people who struggle with poor mental health, you feel like you’re constantly outrunning all of those emotionally destructive feelings until one day, it all becomes too much and you get tired of running. Mental health is like a battlefield and suicide represents the point where you’ve lost that battle.
It’s also quite scary for us to observe people around us, who may give off an air of calm and serenity, but unbeknownst to us, they could be experiencing all manner of internal struggles. Even those closest to us might be suffering without us seeing it. We don’t even notice there’s something wrong until it’s too late.
In 2017, the support service Samaritans reported 6,639 suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. It makes one terrified to consider what the global statistics might be.
And sometimes, there is no quick fix for these struggles. Sometimes, people are so despondent that they see suicide as the only option. And when it comes to holding out for something better to come along, it’s not so much that they won’t, it’s that they can’t. They do not have the means or the will to carry that much-needed hope that life will improve…
…which is why we must carry that hope for them. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a friend or family, colleague, peer or even acquaintance. We need to show each other that suicide IS NOT AN OPTION.
It would be so much easier if we could see the suicide spectre, but until such a device is invented, we can only rely on what we know of poor mental health, and giving those we know whatever support we can.
We can help each other through these difficult times, show them how life can be enjoyed. Whether that’s extracurricular activities, helping them through a personal crisis, or even just letting them know that you’re there for them. If they are walking through a dark tunnel, we have to guide them to the shining light at the end of it. There are so many positives to life, but depression and poor mental health can easily blind us to them. But working together, we can open their eyes to those positives. And if we keep telling and showing them that life is worth sticking around for… maybe they’ll start believing it themselves.
We all have moments where we fall throughout our lives, while trying so hard and getting so far. But contrary to the concluding lyrics of Linkin Park’s most notable song “In the End”, it did matter. It mattered to a lot of people. And we can make life matter for so many others.
My thoughts are with the families of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell during this difficult times. RIP, gentlemen, for all you’ve done. We will do your legacies justice…
If you are struggling and need someone to talk to, please contact Samaritans on this number: 116 123 or visit their website: http://www.samaritans.org/