I woke up this morning, made my cup of coffee, sat at my computer and logged onto my social medias to find out that yet another world-renowned musician has taken his own life. This time, to my shock, Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington. This was a shock to me because it was completely out of left field. Linkin Park were a band who did incredibly well for themselves in the early 2000s and although not as in the limelight today as back then, still maintained quite a following. Not to mention that this is only 2 months removed from the death of Chris Cornell, who passed on the same way, which is still a tough one to even fathom. Chester’s death is no doubt just as shocking. So for this, I want to say a few words for both Chester and Chris as well as give my thoughts and honest opinion on suicide and mental illness.
I’m not a fan of Linkin Park’s music by any means these days, but they were one of the first bands I got into when I was a 13 year old little whipper snapper just getting into heavier music. Hybrid Theory was one of the first albums I bought from my then local music store, Coconuts (later became FYE) and I listened to it religiously. It’s one of the albums that got me through my angsty middle school years. Then Meteora came out and did the same. Crawling was one of the biggest angsty teen anthems of the late 90s/early 2000s along with Papa Roach’s Last Resort and Slipknot’s Wait and Bleed. It was quite a time for my dumb little 12-13 year old self to be alive. I used to buy blank cassette tapes and put them in my boombox and press the record button whenever K-Rock 92.3 would play anything from them or any of the other bands of that era that I dug. Ahhh, memories. Anyway, as embarrassing and awkward as it is to look back on that now, there’s no denying that Linkin Park were one of the bands that opened the gate for me into the world of heavy stuff that would eventually lead me to becoming the Black/Death/Doom/Thrash Metal, Hardcore & Grindcore maniac that I am today.
Soundgarden are a band that I also got into at a young age and still love to this day. The Grunge movement of the early 90s will always have a place in my heart and Soundgarden were, in my opinion, the best band to come out of it, alongside Alice in Chains. Superunknown is an album that i’ll love forever. Fell on Black Days is one of my absolute favorite songs. Chris had a unique set of pipes and he knew how to use them. One of the best and most recognizable voices in all of Hard Rock. He gave us some of the best tunes of the last two decades that still resonate with so many people today. Even Audioslave, who weren’t as popular, but just as prominent in the 2000s alongside Velvet Revolver, fronted by the also late, great Grunge legend, Scott Weiland. Soundgarden are one of my main go-to bands when i’m in a mood for something within the Rock & Alternative spectrum to listen to and probably always will be. Placebo are the only other band who holds that honor.
Now, here’s my analysis.
This isn’t the first instance of a celebrity suicide. Two of the biggest instances were Kurt Cobain and Robin Williams. Those had perhaps the biggest impact on and lit the fire under us as a society to look more into mental illness and what it can do. Or, one that hits more close to home, Joe Ptacek of Broken Hope. A great Death Metal vocalist who took his own life by gunshot. I remember the shock that that caused throughout the Extreme Metal community when it happened. If you grow up with someone on your TV screen or in your radio speakers and come to be just as fond of them as an adult, something like this will be just as impactful on you as if it were a friend or family member. Especially someone like me, who grew up a wrestling fan and spent my teen years and adult life a Metal fan; we are no strangers to death and tragedy. We’ve seen so many of our idols pass on from suicide or other causes, and it never gets any easier to deal with. You just have to get through the grief before you can accept it. That goes especially for the instance of suicide. That’s why we must learn more about what drives people to it.
Now, i’m not going to give you the whole “it gets better” song and dance and i’m not going to try to tell anyone how to cope with their issues and i’m not going to try to talk people out of taking their own lives. In fact, this might be an unpopular and ”shocking” or ”edgy” thing to say, but I have absolutely no problem with suicide or those who choose to commit it if they see fit. We never asked to be born into this world and told to do the things that are expected of us to be respected as human beings, and we shouldn’t be obligated to stay. If you think that’s a shitty, nihilistic opinion, whatever, it’s just how I feel. The world just isn’t built for everyone and some people are just beyond help, and at the end of the day, no matter how much you try to help them, it’s up to them to choose their fate. Not you, them. That’s why mental illness is something that needs to be understood more by everyone; to understand why people make that choice and why it should be an option. Some people just can’t fight forever.
“Life is like animal porn, it’s not for everyone” – Doug Stanhope
Am I saying suicide is the only option? No. Am I saying you shouldn’t try to help people? No. If someone you know and love is suffering with these things, you should absolutely do what you can to help them. Try to understand what they go through even if you can’t relate, be patient and be there as much as you can. It’s all you can do as a friend or as family. It’s their fight but you can hep them through as best as you can. It’s a struggle, but maybe you can make it easier. If they have other ways of coping and prefer that, let it be. It’s their choice. If they chose to not use your help and use that outlet instead, let them. Just try to be there. It is important to be strong and persevere, on both ends, the sufferer and the helper, but everyone has a breaking point and once it’s reached and nothing improves, what more is there to do?
So I think we can all use today’s tragedy and Chris Cornell’s and even Robin William’s and Joe Ptacek’s to learn understand the effect of mental illness and what it can do to someone and how it can make life unlivable for some. Even if they are talented, famous or intelligent, you never know what’s going on inside their heads. So if you or anyone you know is suffering, please help and do all you can. Just be more aware of the possibilities and enjoy your time with them as well. You never know when they may reach their end. It’s unfortunate, but it’s one of life’s harshest realities.
So, with that, I say to Chris and Chester, godspeed to both of you and thank you for your influence. You’ve impacted more than i’m sure you knew and helped mold me into the music fan that I am today, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
Until next time.