Don’t Glorify What Chester Bennington Did

Less than a week ago on July 20th, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park committed suicide by hanging in his family home. He was discovered by his housekeeper, and if you choose to listen to the 911 call, this poor soul can be heard crying and shouting in the background.

Based on her cries alone, no one should glorify or condone what Chester did. His act was violent, disturbing, and heartbreaking to his family, bandmates, and fans.

Fans have now erupted with a strange theory that because Chester had purchased the home where he died just a couple of months prior to committing suicide, he was setting up his family for life. I ask you, a life of what, exactly? Talinda knowing that her husband killed himself in the home that he bought for them, and might have expected them to live in that home afterward? A life of being a single parent and her children knowing that they won’t have their father with them for the rest of their childhood and teen years. When they go to school, he won’t be there to kiss them goodbye. When they join a team, he won’t be there to cheer them on. He can’t help them with their homework, help them pick out a college, or just savor the little things that make your children wonderful. Children are strong but they are also vulnerable. He has put them in a position where they might blame themselves, or even have behavioral problems at home or in school. The reality is, no matter how you want to spin it, he has hurt his children.

Chester’s bandmates are now forced to grieve the loss of their friend. Without Chester, Linkin Park is unable to function, not just in the short term with the appropriate cancellation of their tour, but in the long term, how will they be able to make music together? In their open letter to Chester a few days after he died, they stated that he left a void that cannot be filled. They are absolutely right.

With so many fans glorifying Chester’s violent act, blindly sympathizing with him and justifying what he did, I have deep concerns for their own mental stability and health. If we end up hearing about a young teen who attempts to harm themselves or does commit suicide, and claims it was influenced by Chester, I won’t be surprised. I hope with every ounce of my being that this scenario never happens.

I’m not inclined to make Chester the poster-child for depression and suicide or share a prevention hotline here. I’m not going to “make people aware” of suicide and depression only when someone dies then forget all about it until the next person chooses to end their life.

At some point, we’re going to have to bring celebrities back down to our level and hold them responsible for their actions, even in death.

I realize that this is an unpopular opinion and will likely be met with people telling me I’m insensitive to what Chester was going through, or that I have no right to speak on the topic of suicide and those effected by it. I feel this is reaction is born from the assumption that someone who disagrees with someone’s choice to commit suicide has never experienced depression or thoughts of harming themselves. My own experience with depression and suicide is exactly why I feel the way I feel. I live for the sake of myself, but at the end of the day, I also know that killing myself would leave a wave of destruction in the lives of many. I would never allow my legacy to be that of hurting so many people.

That being said, because of the many years that I spent engulfed by depression, I know exactly what it feels like. Yes, it is a chemical imbalance, but the way you live your life also has a dramatic effect on how you feel. If you live your life in an unhappy way, you will be unhappy. I can definitely say for myself that in January of 2006, when I started teaching, I noticed something different about myself. By the end of that year, I was a completely different person, and I have not been clinically depressed since.

I had a complicated, dark and hurtful childhood. Life was not easy for me, and the damage that my upbringing did can never be fully repaired. When I was seven years old, I wanted to die. I felt that I did not have a place in the world, that I was worthless, and that my life would never get better. I didn’t have six children, a loving wife, an incredible band of friends who loved and respected me, or a massive fanbase that cared about my well-being and talent. I had to sit back and teach myself a lesson that no one in my life at that time could teach me: Death is a part of nature, but suicide is not. Suicide is not normal. I could not allow myself to be the sort of person who would devalue myself, and at the same time hurt others.

Suicide is a level of narcissism that should never be condoned.


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