It was on July 20th, 2017 I got the news that the lead singer of the Band Linkin Park, Chester Bennington had passed away.
A co-worker came to me to deliver the news and upon hearing that I entered a state of disbelief mixed with confusion; then she proceeded to tell me that he died by suicide. I immediately opened my internet browser to confirm if what she was saying was indeed true and not just one of those fake news pages peddling their usual BS. While frantically going through the different posts, I finally came upon one published by TMZ which confirmed that the singer had indeed committed suicide. For the rest of that entire day and even till now as I’m writing this I still find it hard to believe that one of my favourite singers…died, not only died but took his own life. Now I’m not one to cry or be saddened by celebrity deaths, but with Chester…it was different, it felt personal. Now many of you may not understand what I mean by that; after all, how could I care about someone I never met?
Well, let me give you a bit of a back story. I know there are a lot of you with a similar story as well, and you understand where I’m coming from so in a way I’m speaking on behalf of all of us. Growing up especially in high school, I was a weirdo (and in some ways still am), an outcast and the butt of everyone’s jokes. I was always the target of bullying and harsh remarks, what made it worse was when I discovered and fell in love with rock music, it also didn’t help that I attended a Christian Adventist school so most of my classmates were devote “Christians” or so they would claim to be.
They would tell me that I was a Demon, that I worshiped the devil, I needed prayers and so on. But it was somehow Ok for them to listen to Nicky Minaj, Kartel and Mavado. (and they called me the Demon).
Nevertheless, that never stopped my love for rock music and more specifically my love for Linkin Park. They were the band that made me fall in love with rock, they opened my perspectives and showed me that were are all kinds of great music out there other than gospel and unlike most pop songs of the time, their music meant and still means something. The sound, the lyrics and the lifestyle of the band connected with me so much, that from then on, I became a fan; but for me, it was more than just being a fan. The more I followed these guys the more I learned about them, the more I understood their personalities, their struggles and their reason for making music. I could see the love and appreciation they had for their fans, they weren’t like most pop stars or even rock stars, they were genuine. They stayed true to their creativity and never conformed to what people wanted from them, they never compromised and I admired that a lot about them, they were and still are Fearless. I remember in an interview Mike Shinoda said something that really stuck with me,
(From left to right: Chester Bennington – Lead Singer, Joe Hahn- DJ, Mike Shinoda – Rapper/Producer, Rob Bourdon – Drummer, Dave Farell – Bassist)
“The name Linkin Park doesn’t define the music, the music defines the name”.
Chester was a genius vocalist, his range was unparalleled and as big as his talent was, his heart was just as big. He was fun to watch on and off stage, you always felt that he was the kind of person you could just go up to and have a conversation with and just talk shit and to me, he didn’t seem like a celebrity, but just a really chill guy. However, I could also tell there was a darkness inside him…things he was struggling with, you could hear it in the lyrics, especially in the Band’s last Album “One More Light”. The track listing was almost like a cry for help:
Nobody Can Save Me
Talking to Myself
Sorry for Now
One More Light
Why am I telling you this? Like Chester Bennington, there are many people who take their own lives every year; celebrity or not. Suicide is a real issue that many people aren’t taking seriously. Why? Well, there are many reasons but the most common is Because they blame those who commit it, for being “Selfish”. In a recent article, published in the Huffington Post entitled “There’s nothing selfish about suicide” it partly tells the story of its writer and her struggle with depression she also makes many compelling arguments and observations about suicide and depression. There was a part that really stood out to me,
“Until you’ve stared down that level of depression until you’ve lost your soul to a sea of emptiness and darkness… you don’t get to make those judgments. You might not understand it, and you are certainly entitled to your own feelings, but making those judgments and spreading that kind of negativity won’t help the next person. In fact, it will only hurt others.”
Guyana has the highest suicide rate in the world, yet we never talk about it, we see it happen all the time and we never address the problem. Instead, we make jokes, we blame the victim, we brush it off without a care and we call them “weak”.
We need to understand that we’re all different people, we feel and think differently, therefore, we all have different perspectives on life. We have no right to judge what a person should or shouldn’t do or feel, if you weren’t willing to help them when they were around, you have no right to judge when they opt out.
How do I know all of this? I was once just like this…perhaps I still am in a way. If you’ve been reading my previous posts up to this point then you know by now that I’ve dealt with a lot of issues in the past. There were many times I even considered taking my own life…But I was fortunate to have my best friend and girlfriend around me. The interesting thing about my best friend though was that he was never aware of my depression, I never told him; it wasn’t that I didn’t want to but being around him made me forget all about it. Unaware to him, he would teach me so many valuable lessons about life and love, and all of this happened during normal conversation. He may not know this but he as well as my girlfriend helped me a great lot to deal with my depression and for that, I’m thankful to have them both in my life.
So, how do you help someone suffering from depression? The truth is there is no one way to do it, but it can be summed up in a fundamental statement;
Don’t be a dick, Be a Friend.
My best friend had no idea what I was going through, but his friendship was enough to help me; just like that you never know how much you may mean to someone or what just simple kindness can do to help them. If someone wants to talk to you, just lend a listening ear, sometimes that’s all it takes. People often think symptoms of depression are easy to identify, or depressed people are “Sad” That’s not necessarily true, Depression has no face, the happiest person you know may be the suffering from it.
(Left, Chester Bennington)
And for those of you going through Depression…It takes strength, real strength to get through every day, I know. However, I’m going to be honest with you, a person never truly overcomes Depression or even anxiety, it just gets a little better but it’s something you live with, that’ll always be a part of you, it kind of comes in waves.
But that’s more of a reason to try not to live secluded, try to keep people around you who will serve as your encouragement and not as a source of negativity, who try to be as understanding as possible and most of all try to live each day to the best you can; try your best because this life is too short to put up with bullshit.
Rest in Peace Chester.
Huffington Post – “There’s Nothing Selfish About Suicide”