The tragic death of Chester Bennington underlines this fact.
Bennington died of an apparent suicide by hanging at his home in Palos Verdes Estates, California; his housekeeper discovered his body around 9:00 a.m. PDT on July 20, 2017.
What drove him to his death did not start on the day he killed himself! It has been long coming, he didn’t bottle it up either, he expressed many of his troubles in his music.
Chester was subjected to single parenthood from age 11 following the separation of his parents. He initially lived with the dad before moving in with the mum. He was a victim of alcohol and drug abuse from very early stages of his life and was a victim of sexual abuse for several years by an older male.
Haven’t been through all these, he continued to battle his demon throughout his musical career as testimonies from his band members suggest. The death of his close friend Chris Cornell, the former Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman two months earlier at the age of 52 through suicide by hanging seems to have pushed him over the edge.
In a letter of appreciation written to Chris Cornell after his death, Chester Bennington said “”Your talent was pure and unrivalled, Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped into one. I suppose that’s what we all are.” Chester went on to wish Chris peace in the “next life” and thank him for including him in his personal moments.
The death of Chris seems to have taken its toll on him that he could not finish the tribute song “one more light” dedicated to him at his funeral, the culmination of all of it was the suicide on the day Chris was supposed to be 53yr!
One more light by Linkin Park
Should’ve stayed, were there signs, I ignored? Can I help you, not to hurt, anymore? We saw brilliance, when the world, was asleep There are things that we can have, but can’t keep
If they say Who cares if one more light goes out? In a sky of a million stars It flickers, flickers Who cares when someone’s time runs out? If a moment is all we are We’re quicker, quicker Who cares if one more light goes out? Well I do
The reminders pull the floor from your feet In the kitchen, one more chair than you need oh And you’re angry, and you should be, it’s not fair Just ’cause you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it, isn’t there
Yet, it appears the thing that pushed him to suicide goes beyond the death of Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington sang severally about his battle with depression, in hindsight, it certainly looks like he was crying out for help.
The song “Heavy” released by the group in February underline this cry for help, in each of the verses, the stack warning signs that the depression his getting hold of him is clear, but these signs are taken as an entertainment references.
Heavy by Linkin Park
I don’t like my mind right now Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary Wish that I could slow things down I wanna let go but there’s comfort in the panic And I drive myself crazy Thinking everything’s about me Yeah, I drive myself crazy ‘Cause I can’t escape the gravity
I’m holding on Why is everything so heavy? Holding on So much more than I can carry I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down If I just let go, I’d be set free Holding on Why is everything so heavy?
You say that I’m paranoid But I’m pretty sure the world is out to get me It’s not like I make the choice To let my mind stay so fucking messy I know I’m not the center of the universe But you keep spinning ’round me just the same I know I’m not the center of the universe
The song “heavy” was co-written by Chester, bandmates Mike Shinoda and Brad Delson.
Mike Shinoda in an interview with Billboard revealed the troubled state of Chester during the composition of the song, where he came out that he felt overwhelmed.
Other songs in the album are even more revealing, like “nobody can save me” and “good goodbye”
“Nobody can save me”
I’m dancing with my demons I’m hanging off the edge Storm clouds gather beneath me Waves break above my head At first hallucination I wanna fall wide awake now You tell me it’s alright Tell me I’m forgiven Tonight But nobody can save me now I’m holding up a light Chasing up the darkness inside ‘Cause nobody can save me
Stare into this illusion For answers yet to come I chose a false solution But nobody proved me wrong At first hallucination I wanna fall wide awake Watch the ground giving way now You tell me it’s alright Tell me I’m forgiven Tonight But nobody can save me now I’m holding up a light I’m chasing up the darkness inside ‘Cause nobody can save me
Yet, it was not on record that he actively seeks help to fight his demons.
In an interview with Paul Gaita of THE FIX IN 2016, Chester revealed he did some counselling with the guys (the band mates), and they really opened up and told him how they felt. He knew that he had a drinking and drug problems and that parts of his personal life were crazy, but he didn’t realize how much of that was affecting the people around him.
Bennington said that the band was keenly aware of a schism between his sober and addicted behaviour. “They said that I was two people – Chester, and then that fucking guy. I didn’t want to be that guy.” Bennington said that sobriety has since become one of the band’s hallmarks.
Good Googbye by Linkin Park
So say goodbye and hit the road Pack it up and disappear You better have some place to go ‘Cause you can’t come back around here Good goodbye (Don’t you come back no more)
According to the American Psychological Association, 9% of men in the United States have daily feelings of depression or anxiety, using data from the National Health Interview Survey, of these 1 in 3 takes medication because of those feelings and 1 in 4 spoke to a mental health professional.
Using a “gender inclusive depression scale” that includes symptoms such as rage and risk-taking, there is no significant difference between rate of depression in men and women, although other methods of measuring depression found that women are more likely to suffer depression, but rate of suicide among American men is 4 times higher than among women according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is not entirely surprising that more male die from suicide than female even though more females suffer from depression, given men’s general reluctance to seek help for suicide-related concerns, and the stigma associated with mental health problems in general.
It is hoped that the awareness the music and death of Chester Bennington are raising about depression and suicidal thought will help more men to seek help. Realising that anyone can be affected, regardless of location, status, education and gender.
No one is above depression.
RIP Chester Bennington