Chester Bennington of Linkin Park committed suicide.
And I’m having a hard time. Because his lyrics…his voice: these are some of the reasons I’m still alive.
Shit was really bad for me when Linkin Park’s album Hybrid Theory came out.
The year was 2000, I was 20 years old and I was struggling with hypomania and depression. I had been struggling since I was 16. I was dealing with the pain of having been molested as a young child and abused in the alcoholic home I grew up in. To be honest, at that time, I couldn’t make sense of what the point of my life was.
I used to lie on the floor sobbing because the despair was so immense. But Linkin Park’s songs got me through it. I knew that I wasn’t alone.
When I was married, my life improved but I was still struggling with my mental health. When the Meteora album came out, it made such an impact in my life and in our life as a couple. My (now ex-) husband and I had the pleasure of going to four Linkin Park concerts. They were awesome. Chester’s voice never failed to amaze and impact me: the sound of his voice was like a lullaby to me, soothing the void in my soul. The pain that resonated as he sang those powerful lyrics comforted me to my core. Depression takes everything away from you. It tricks you into thinking you have no one. But when I listened to Linkin Park, I felt I wasn’t alone.
My ex and I stood in line until after midnight at Tower Records in Sherman Oaks Galleria to get Meteroa. When we had been standing in line for hours and were nowhere near close to getting inside, a rep for the band came out around midnight to let us know our wait would not be in vain: the band wanted to stay and greet every fan that was there. Linkin Park has always been so sensitive to their fans and I’ve always felt personally appreciated as a fan. I feel like I’m a part of something special.
My ex and I danced to the song “My December” at our wedding. While it’s not exactly a romantic song, Linkin Park was so significant in our relationship, we just had to have it as part of our day. We had been through so much because of my mental illness that the music was a bridge for us. We could both experience the music in our own way but together. It was a time when we were the closest. Even though we aren’t together anymore, when I hear of Chester’s death, my ex was the one person I wanted to call because I knew he’d understand my pain.
Suicidal thoughts have been a constant companion for me since I was a teenager. In 2003, I finally sought out therapy. And this amazing woman who helped me get started in therapy recommended I attend Al-Anon meetings, which is a 12-step group for those who have been affected by alcoholism either through a family member or friend. Starting therapy and attending Al-Anon meetings were my first steps to having hope and thinking my life mattered. And even though I work with an amazing psychiatrist as well to treat my Bipolar Disorder, depression will still rear its ugly head and suicide sometimes seems like the only option.
As for my grief now, hearing of Chester’s death, I think I’m feeling survivor’s remorse. Like: Why am I ok? Why have I overcome my suicidal thoughts, and he – the person who helped me overcome mine so many times – couldn’t overcome his? I’m sad to think Chester felt so alone, that no one could sing and save him. It seems so cruel, painful and confusing. And if his fans are this distraught, I can only imagine how his family and friends must be feeling.
No one can truly understand suicide and why it happens. My hope for the loved ones of this amazing man is that they cherish the wonderful times they had with him. Taking his own life is a part of his story, but it is not all of it. There is so much more to a human being and we should honor every aspect of them. As a fan, I will forever be grateful for his passion; his music touched me so deeply; he was a piece of the puzzle that kept me alive.
May he rest in peace.