Doubtless, you’ve heard that Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, committed suicide in his own home.
So many questions have surely been asked, and many more will be forthcoming in the coming days and weeks. Why did he do it? With an estimated net worth of $30 million, it’s not like he was drowning in debt.
There are millions of fans asking why, not to mention his six children who no longer have a dad, and will never get their questions answered. It won’t matter if he left them a twelve-volume suicide note. Nothing will satisfy their wondering. I mourn for them, though I’ve never met them and never will.
I only hope that these six kids sometime understand how valuable their daddy was to the rest of the world. While I won’t pretend to be a Linkin Park fan, I was a young 16 year old kid who cut school to buy their first album when it first came out. Chester and his crew brought something new to the music industry, and shaped many from my generation. His angsty lyrics seemed to resonate with a large swath of confused and angry teenagers, seeking some kind of meaning in the midst of their own despair, whether real or imagined.
I’ve personally never quite gotten over that despair. I’ve battled depression off and on for many years now, and am undiagnosed only because I’m too proud to admit that I need help and too stubborn to submit my mental health to a doctor’s care.
Maybe you knew this. If you know me at all, you know this. We talk, and you hear the anguish in my words. Sometimes my eyes sparkle, but other times they are an empty husk with an exceptional darkness within. Maybe as you read these words, you inherently know that I’m not doing well right now. It’s not Chester’s death that has me down. I’ve been down for a while. Some of you have noticed. Some of you have called me out, and I need you to keep that up.
Sometimes I wonder if Bennington had those friends who called him out? Because in hindsight, maybe we should have seen something was a bit off.
Linkin Park’s first album, “Hybrid Theory,” came out in 2000, and even then, Chester sounds just a bit tortured. Maybe we thought it was an act, a front to appeal those jaded teens who are off their meds. Or maybe… just maybe he’s been in the dark for a long time.
Maybe as long as me. Maybe longer.
Lyrics from “One Step Closer”:
I need a little room to breathe
Cause I’m one step closer to the edge
I’m about to break.
And again from “Papercut”:
But I know just what it feels like
To have a voice in the back of my head
Like a face that I hold inside
A face that awakes when I close my eyes
A face that watches every time I lie
A face that laughs every time I fall
And then more from “Crawling”:
Crawling in my skin
These wounds they will not heal
Fear is how I fall
Confusing what is real
There’s something inside me that pulls beneath the surface
This lack of self-control I fear is never ending
Controlling. I can’t seem…
To find myself again
My walls are closing in
(without a sense of confidence and I’m convinced that there’s just too much pressure to take)
I’ve felt this way before
That’s just a selection from the first five tracks of their debut album. I’m sure I could go on, but I’ll leave it alone.
Are you still in the dark? Have you walked right up to that edge, feeling that push in your back to take that final plunge? Have you done all that you can, only to find that it isn’t enough? Are you reading this right now from the end of your rope, tethered in doubts and insecurities, somehow knowing that while you’ve heard over and over that suicide isn’t the answer, maybe it’s still an option?
Somebody out there cares about you, and probably more than you realize. If Linkin Park had been so popular on Facebook yesterday, would this have happened? I won’t make that conjecture, but the love for Chester and his band is clearly more evident today than it was yesterday. Don’t mistake the silence of your loved ones for apathy. People care more than they’re willing to admit. We’re proud like that. It’s stupid, and for all the times that I haven’t told you how much you mean to me, I’m sorry. You deserve better.
Take what you have left and find someone to talk to about this.
If you’re a talker, maybe call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Or if you’re more like everyone else in the 21st century, they do have an online chat option.
Don’t leave the rest of us wondering why. You might not see it right now, but you have more reasons to live than reasons to die.
Chester Bennington, rest in peace. Everybody else, give it more time.