This post will no doubt echo thousands of others out there, all mourning the loss of Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, Dead by Sunrise, a father and a husband and a person. His death was a suicide.
I hold no claim to have known him personally and I would probably have never met him. Yet you don’t need to have known someone intimately to regret their death. I admired his music, his passion and his creative energy that flowed into everything he touched. There has been many a night where I would listen to the music he was a part of, feeling a connection between his voice and the words that echoed around me.
On hearing the news of his passing, it was as if an old friend had gone. I had not seen or heard from them for years but they had always been there to help, to guide, to listen. I owe Chester Bennington and Linkin Park so much for the comfort, joy, peace and sense of belonging I feel every time I listen to their music. And I know I’m not the only one.
It wasn’t even a month ago when I was in an arena in Birmingham, with my sisters, eagerly awaiting the moment he walked onto the stage and was there in the flesh, as well as in spirit. Linkin Park has pretty much been the only band we can all say we agree on. Hearing the lyrics live and watching the band connect and engage with the audience brought the reality of their own humanity to light. One of their most recent songs, ‘One More Light,’ sung in Chester’s powerful and emotive croon was a beautiful moment, where we all lit up the stands and the floors and were as one community. Every minute they were up there, they were themselves. Real people, doing the thing that they loved with people who loved them for it. It was an evening I will not easily forget.
When depression takes a person from their life, sometimes it is said that you should only remember the good times, when they were happy. I personally think that is a dishonour to their memory and to the work they can still accomplish. Chester Bennington was suffering in a way only he could realise and understand but in a society which rejects the idea of vulnerability and which rarely accepts the severity of mental health issues, he may have felt too afraid to seek help or guidance. Not knowing the full story, I cannot say but I do know what it’s like in my own dark place that depression takes me into. I understand the ingrained fear of admitting to someone, anyone, that you cannot cope and that life can sometimes be too difficult to bear. If the news of his death and depression helps even one person realise they are suffering also and go and seek help, then that is what we should take from this. Openness and honesty are the only ways to remove the stigma around mental health issues.
I will never be angry at suicides but rather frustrated and dismayed that the person felt that was their only option. I refuse to believe that suicide is the only option and someone can be so far gone that they can’t come back. I came back but only through admittance and acceptance. If we don’t accept Chester Bennington as a man suffering with depression and only as a musician, isn’t that taking away and hiding a key part of what defined him? To me, that is merely the same as denying the reality of mental health issues.
So instead of only remembering only his lyrics and his voice and his music, I am going to remember Chester Bennington as a person; someone who inspired me and helped me and someone who lost his battle with depression. I will mourn his creativity, his passion and everything that made up who he is. And I will always continue to hope that one day, the shame, fear and guilt surrounding depression will dissipate and no one else will feel so alone.
I hope, wherever you are Chester Bennington, that you’ve learnt peace.