I’m sure that everybody reading this post will be aware that on July 20th, the lead vocalist of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, passed away at the age of 41. He was married and had six children. Fans of the band and of alternative music in general flocked to social media to pay their respects. Now, the official Linkin Park website opens on a statement from the band, and an additional page on the site collates all of the outpourings of love and grief expressed via the hashtag #RIPChester.
I have umm-ed and ahh-ed about writing this blog post, not least because it’s been almost three weeks since Chester passed away. However, it wouldn’t feel right for me to carry on blogging as if nothing major has happened. Plus, I think it is important for as many people as possible to bring attention to issues surrounding suicide, in the hope that others could find help and support.
When I first heard the news, it’s safe to say that the first emotion I felt was complete shock. Although Chester made his demons known to everybody through his lyrics, nobody expected that he would succumb to them at the relatively young age of 41. A friend sent me a Facebook message expressing her shock, and I immediately started scouring the web for more sources, desperate in the hope that it was all a massive hoax, and that Chester would tweet his surprise at the apparent news of his demise. I then heard the news broadcast on the radio, and I knew it had to be true.
Chester Bennington was the voice of my teenage years. I was convinced I was an outsider and a freak, and to escape those feelings, it was Linkin Park that gave me comfort. I was the stereotypical Linkin Park fan, who would blast Hybrid Theory, Meteora and Minutes To Midnight in her headphones to hide from the rest of the world. As the band’s sound evolved, my music taste changed with it, and I started to enjoy the more electronic sounds of Living Things and A Thousand Suns. Earlier today I listened to The Messenger and felt myself relating the lyrics to Chester’s passing.
To me, Chester’s passing is on a par with the passing of Robin Williams back in 2014 – both men were childhood heroes that stuck with me into adulthood, and I think it’s safe to say that the world is a little bit darker without them in it. All I can say is that Chester Bennington was an incredible songwriter and a voice for the downtrodden, and he will be sorely missed.
If you’re in the UK and you are struggling with depression, anxiety or pervasive negative thoughts, you can seek help via Mind, Samaritans, your local NHS mental health services (though there are often lengthy waiting lists) or the registry of private counsellors. Remember that you are not alone, and that you are deserving of help and support.