“Chester, your pain saved me from mine. Your darkness showed me that mine wasn’t the only one, that there were others. It helped me, you helped me,” wrote a Linkin Park fan on the band’s Facebook page just a few days after news of Chester Bennington’s suicide left his loved ones and millions of fans shocked and heartbroken.
Chester Bennington, the lead singer behind the hauntingly powerful lyrics of alternative rock band Linkin Park died of suicide on July 20, 2017. His death shook the music industry, creating an incredible amount of emotional outpour from friends, family, and fans who connected with the band’s pain-filled lyrics and the singer’s angst, which stemmed from his difficult childhood.
From the early age of 11, Bennington abused alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, and opium to numb himself to the trauma left behind by the sexual abuse he experienced as a child. Like many who suffer from addiction, he also struggled with other mental health disorders, something he was upfront and transparent about throughout his career.
He hoped that his honesty would encourage others to speak up and seek help, as he did in 2006 when he decided to get sober. When discussing his struggles with addiction during an interview with The Guardian, Bennington said, “I’d become a person that wasn’t me. I’m a nice friendly guy that was always stuck behind this monster that was really just a hurt kid.”
Bennington was proud of his sobriety often saying, “It’s not cool to be an alcoholic…it’s cool to be a part of recovery.” But despite his success at recovering from addiction, Bennington continued to struggle with severe depression. In an interview earlier this year, he described his mind as “a bad neighborhood that I should not be walking alone,” highlighting the importance of reaching out for help.
As tragic as Bennington’s death is, he is not alone. An average of 117 suicides occur every day – men being at higher risk, often due to substance abuse and the cultural norms that make it difficult for them to share their emotions. Despite being the tenth leading cause of death in the nation, suicide is rarely talked about in the media, and there is still a stigma attached to mental health.
Bennington’s suicide has brought attention to the topic of mental health, and it is important to keep the conversation going and let people know that they are not alone. People need to know that they can talk about their trauma and that it is okay to ask for help.
Sometimes, those in recovery expect all their problems and pain to disappear when they achieve sobriety, but that is not always the case. Ridding your body of harmful substances does not guarantee you everlasting happiness. Anxiety and depression are widespread and can become dangerous to a person’s sobriety and overall health. Recovery is more than just not drinking and not doing drugs. It is about caring for your whole self – mind included.
Remember, whether you are struggling with substance abuse, mental illness, or suicide, there is help and support available.
Suicide is 100 percent preventable. If you or a loved one is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This lifeline provides free support 24-hours a day.