I woke to the news that Chester Bennington of Linkin Park had passed away on the 21st of July (Australian time). By the time I got into work, the news was stating it was suicide. Another life lost. Just a month after Chris Cornell took his own life. And, perhaps coincidentally, on Cornell’s birthday. When a musician dies grief takes over social media. While not knowing these people personally, fans feel connected to them through their music. Maybe they grew up listening to them, maybe their music helped them through tough times. I felt the loss of these great artists in the past, but the loss felt for Chester was different. This time it was a band I grew up with. A band that shaped my listening habits. A band that got me through those early years of high school.
It felt like everyone was affected. No matter who I talked to, they were grieving. It came up during dinner with friends the next day- and we shared in the grief and knowledge that we lost someone that was important to us. My favourite story was about how one of my friends couldn’t afford the merchandise, so she got a bag and spray painted the Linkin Park logo on it. We were young. We were learning a lot about ourselves. We were angry. We wanted to be heard. Linkin Park gave voice to our feelings. Made us feel we weren’t alone. We wanted the world to know we were on their side. And after the response to Chester’s passing – it couldn’t be more evident that we are definitely not alone.
To be honest, I never really listened to much they released after Meteora, but that doesn’t mean they meant anything less to me. In fact, Hybrid Theory and Meteora remain two of my favourite albums. I was ten when Hybrid Theory came out. I think “In The End” was the first song I heard, so I would have been 11. I remember my sister telling me about Linkin Park, and how I had to listen to them. She was 13 at the time and we used to get up early to watch Rage every weekend. I remember as she waited anxiously for them to play a Linkin Park song so she could find out what I thought. I instantly loved it. I was almost finished with primary school, and I was feeling the stress of change as I was about to embark on my life as a high school student. I was moving on from Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, but to what? Linkin Park was the answer.
As a young woman from the ages of about 12 to 16 I dealt with all the things people of that age deal with. It’s a time full of changes and you just want to know where you fit in the world. Sure, sometimes I was angry – at what? Probably, nothing. I was a teenager, give me a break. I felt alone at times. Misunderstood. Confused. Linkin Park helped with all of that. Looking back on it now, a lot of the lyrics may have been a cry for help. Not all the songs had a happy ending, but the feeling that you weren’t the only one that felt like this was enough. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for Chester Bennington.
From the outside it would appear he had it all. Money (presumably), a large fan base, support. But we never know what is going through someone’s head – and that is the problem. I read something about him battling addiction, but I don’t know his history and I don’t need to pry. Some may say “what has he got to be sad about?”, but it is more than that, and that comment could not be more insensitive. Despite being human beings with complex emotions across a wide spectrum, it almost feels taboo to talk about your problems. No one wants to be the downer, so we fake it. We smile. We pretend. To stop others being uncomfortable, but at what risk to our own mental health?
If we don’t talk about our problems we can’t heal. We can’t seek help. And so we fall. Fall to a point where a way out seems impossible. And so we lose musicians, idols, family and friends to suicide. This is certainly not the easy way out as some people like to claim. I just can’t imagine that making that decision is easy in any way. The cycle needs to break. We need to allow people to talk. We need to help. We all need to allow ourselves to heal.
So with that I say goodbye to Chester Bennington. You helped many young people find their way, and a way out of the darkness. You were, and will remain, important to myself and so many others. In the end, it did all matter.
Please if you are suffering from anxiety or depression, there are organisations like Beyond Blue that can help.