Death is never easy… That is one lesson I’ve learned the hard way. Truth be told I was very naive about death until I lost somebody very close to me. We grow up and we understand that in some distant future we will lose our grandparents, our parents and eventually our friends and our peers. I suppose by its very definition life is death… we have a predisposition to deal with this natural course of events. Its when that path deviates and we lose people young that we change the way we think, and feel about death and grief.
We’ve all had tough news this week that Chester Bennington had taken his own life. Chester for a lot of people was the front man of a generation. Starting in the early 2000’s with the epic debut of ‘Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park kicked off the ‘New Metal’ genre and what they did, truly changed the game. The Grammy-Winning album has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and remains the best selling debut album of the 21st century so far.
Watching the evolution of the band as they matured and grew, taking on the Transformers soundtrack and cementing their place in the hearts and minds of a second generation of fans. Linkin Park were one of those bands that truly evolved and changed with the times keeping it fresh and new, and have stayed one band that has never fallen out of favour with me. I saw Linkin in 2014 at Download Festival, where they played ‘Hybrid Theory’ in full. Never one to shy away from his tumultuous past, Chester quite literally wore his heart on his sleeve and sang with such raw emotion. The words to the music almost being a diary written out for all to see, and one that hit a chord with like minded individuals who found solace in a shared emotion.
His stage presence was phenomenal and his friendship with fellow band mate, Mike was beautiful to watch and broke the intensity of the sometimes sombre tone of the music. For me that gig will be one that will live in my heart forever… It never resonated with me how special that gig was, not just for me but for thousands of people who all shared a moment with a personal hero. Someone who makes music that makes you feel…
It’s so sad that Chester couldn’t see the beauty and the love that he had around him, and that he felt the only way out was suicide. Bennington was found dead at his home in Southern California’s Palos Verdes Estates on Thursday morning. He had reportedly hanged himself and authorities are investigating his death as a suicide. Mike Shinoda, a fellow member and best friend of Chester, took to Twitter to announce the news we had all been dreading, that the rumours circulating were true. “Shocked and heartbroken, but it’s true, Shinoda Tweeted. “An official statement will come out as soon as we have one.” No further information has yet been released, but our hopes and prayers go out to the friends and family of those who knew Chester, and the millions of adoring fans who will also be affected.
Suicide is one of the largest causes of death in the UK, but it is also one of the least talked about. The Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’ tackled the issue with the honest and sometimes brutal series following the life and death of fictional character, Hannah Baker. The series was met with both praise and criticism in equal measures for its frank portrayal of teen suicide. Some say the series romanticised the issue, but I disagree. This subject is very real and it needs to be shown. I feel it should be taught in schools to help young people understand and comprehend the feelings they may have, now or in the future. They need to know that there are options, and not ultimatums. Suicide cannot be a taboo subject, was Romeo and Juliet not about the same thing? This year in the UK alone, 6,188 suicides were registered, and 451 in the Republic of Ireland. This is a serious issue that has serious consequences. Its not just the person that leaves that has to suffer the pain, but those they leave behind that bear the guilt and burden. Most often those that have to deal with that grief then themselves struggle daily.
There has long been a link between the creatives and depression. The debate rides on that those who put there feelings and emotions out there are more likely to be prone to social anxiety and/or depression. Creativity is all about thinking, so it only makes sense that with all of that thinking and effort or over analysis of things can have a profound effect on the psyche. Bennington struggled with fan reaction to the new sound and when asked about the bands desire to evolve from the sound of ‘Hybrid Theory’, Bennington commented: When we made ‘Hybrid Theory’ I was the oldest guy in the band and in my mid 20’s. That’s why I guess I’m like; why are we still talking about ‘Hybrid Theory’? Its fucking years ago. Its a great record, we love it. Like move the fuck on, you know what I mean?”
The endless cycle of overthinking and feeling stagnant or less than, can lead to manic episodes of feeling hopeless, alone, or like a failure. Maybe you’ve felt those emotions a lot yourself. For creatives, that depressive state happens to be longer-lasting and more intense, due to their innate desire to simply keep thinking on it.
I have a friend that suffers with depression and has struggled with his own demons, turning to self harm and failing to feel like he fits in with any certain social group. He struggles with alcohol and substance abuse and uses this as a crutch to mask the feelings that he has. Before he sought help for his ongoing issues he used to call this self medicating… Chasing away the bad thoughts with substances may be good in theory, but the only issue with this is the problems never actually go away. When you finally sober up the issues are still there and often magnified due to your exhaustive state. We’ve had many discussions in the past about this and he knows day or night that I am there and he is coping with the help and support of friends and professionals. As an avid writer and aspiring musician he personifies the creative mind perfectly, one that is both ‘restless and tortured’, by his own admission. I asked his feelings on what had happened and quite candidly asked him about his own feelings of depression. His answer shocked me and left me with my own feelings of guilt and angst and quite honestly opened my eyes to something I know very little of…“I wake up everyday with the fear that today will be the same as yesterday. I hate how I feel, so scared and alone. I hate how everybody is so distant and only shows interest when they want something. I’ve become so disenchanted with the world and the selfish nature of people. We live in a world of social networks but for me its the opposite. I feel as though I’m standing behind glass watching the world go by like some weird movie, whilst I stay still people grow up and move on. I don’t want to be unhappy, I don’t sulk or moan, I’m simply me. On the darkest of days I feel like death is the easy answer.”
The words he used are very powerful, but also unsettling… obviously I have his full permission to use these words and he is currently seeking help, but what worries me is how many people are there that feel like this this that aren’t getting help?
The stigma of mental health issues has to stop!
ITS OK NOT TO BE OK…
With the Passing of Robin Williams, Chris Cornell and now Chester Bennington, surely its time for someone to take action and try and stop the chain?
Don’t be a moment of desperation and end your life. Help will always come to those that ask for it. For me this has hit far too close to home and has shed a light on a subject that is too often kept in the dark. This isn’t just about celebrity pressure but the real effect of depression felt by everybody. Stop the Stigma and speak up.
Bear A Scar – A Poem For The Lost
You are not weak, your actually strong,
The battle you fight wont always rage on.
Dying is easy, its living that’s hard, but we battle through no matter how scarred.
Love with a passion, with all of your might, and never, ever, give up the fight.
You’re never alone if you can just look, to find the strength, and simply speak up.
Its not weak to feel alone, to feel down, to weep or moan. To find the courage to admit what you are, to show the world you bear a scar.
From everyday pressure to dealing with grief, we can all stand together, that’s my honest belief.
The scars we show should make us proud, that we live each day through fear and doubt. That we persevere and that we are strong, even though the day seems long.
You may feel that you’re far from home, your lost, forgotten, and so alone. You Mustn’t give up, it gets better with time, and maybe, just maybe, today will be fine.
The Sun will rise as it always does, and we will embrace it with life and with Love.
There is no judgement, no stigma, no fear, just the knowledge we’re always here.