When news broke this afternoon of the death of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, my heart sank. If you grew up around the height of LP’s defining two albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, you understand the pain of hearing that the first band that showed you that others feel the way you do lost its key member to an apparent suicide is not something to take lightly.
While we know Bennington has suffered for many years with his demons, the news still came as a shock to fans around the world who were excited to see the band on tour this summer. With so many celebrity deaths in the news lately, it’s crazy that we’re even sitting here questioning why mental health and depression still aren’t being taken seriously. Those suffering feel stigmatized and made to feel as if they are, for lack of a better term, a “snowflake,” for even feeling any type of pain. We are told to suck it up and move on. But when one does such a thing, it builds up and eventually, it grows into an uncontrollable monster.
Linkin Park was the first band I started listening to in the rock genre. I remember buying Hybrid Theory for a friend for Christmas one year. Once I listened to the album on my own the whole way through, I was hooked. There was something there that I couldn’t turn away from. It was different but the key element that reeled me in was how much I could relate to it.
Needless to say, Hybrid Theory was the album to have in junior high and once Meteora was released, the band was unstoppable, genre-bending across the charts while demonstrating what the future would sound like. I’ll admit I lost interest after high school, but the memories I’ve made during my formative years with friends over their music is something I’ll carry with me forever.
LP’s music opened me up to new genres and (much to the disdain of my mother) Bennington’s powerful, signature scream felt like a release of sorts. “Crawling” became one of the first songs I ever really identified with. It was such a relief to know that I wasn’t imagining things and whatever I was feeling at the moment was justified. I think that’s been the universal sentiment with people. Though some of us may have moved on from LP, that initial sense of belonging is what originally drew us in.
It hurts to hear others call Bennington and other suicide victims selfish. Take a minute to be mindful. Remember that you’ll never know or comprehend what he was going through. Maybe he reached out and felt the cold shoulder. When despair strikes, it strikes hard. When you’re in a state of hopelessness, nothing ever looks bright. I just hope he’s finally found peace.
Maybe this will be the death that really hits home. Maybe this time, we won’t have to dance around the topic of mental health like it’s something we should be ashamed of. Maybe this is the moment we all realize we’re human and we are capable of feeling ugly things we wish we could ignore. Maybe we’ll come to terms with the fact that all of our uncomfortable thoughts and feelings are trying to tell us something and that it’s okay to reach out for help. Maybe this time when we start to reach, there will be a hand waiting for us.