Many music enthusiasts all over the world were very saddened to hear that Chester Bennington, singer of Linkin Park, had committed suicide yesterday. He was 41-years-old. The news was confirmed by bandmate Mike Shinoda. His death comes just two months after the suicide of Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave) with whom Bennington was friends and wrote an open letter for. Yesterday would have also been Cornell’s 53rd birthday. Tributes have poured in for Bennington with particular attention to his fearlessly honest lyrics that touched so many.
Although Linkin Park initially rose out of the nu-metal wave of the 1990s, they always seemed like a band who stood in their own right. Their music has left a well-pressed imprint on the music world including notable anthems like ‘Numb’ and ‘In The End’. A remix of the former was also recorded with Jay-Z. The group released seven studio albums, sold more than 70 million records globally and have long been held in high regard.
Linkin Park are one of those bands that numerous alternative music fans seem to have some kind of connection to at some point in their lives. For me personally, I was only a young child when their debut album Hybrid Theory (2000) was released but I discovered it later in my pre-teens. Being so young, I’d obviously never heard anything like it before. It was aggressive rock, rap and electronic music all in one. Bennington’s lyrics were so relatable and undeniably moving. Looking back, it definitely helped to ignite my later interest in cross-genre music and the way music expresses things that nothing else can.
Bennington and Linkin Park never got their much deserved recognition for fearlessly exposing inner darkness.
— The FADER (@thefader) July 20, 2017
It’s obvious from Bennington’s lyrics that he went through a lot in life including being abused as a child and long-term drug and alcohol problems. His lyrics, delivered through his impassioned voice, often contained themes of hopeless despair, frustration and always feeling “one step closer to the edge”. These are almost universal feelings and as a result Linkin Park’s songs spoke to many on a profoundly personal level. Their music created an outlet of necessary catharsis for being in a world that always feels like it’s against you. It helped their fans know that they weren’t alone.
In recent years, there has been report after report stating that men have the highest suicide rates, particularly over aged 30. Evidence indicates that this is due to the societal standards imposed on men and boys to not show weakness or talk openly about their feelings, leading to their lower likelihood of seeking help. Organisations like CALM are working to tackle this horrific issue. It would be insensitive to suggest that toxic masculinity was the only contributing factor to Bennington’s death, but it certainly may have played a part.
Likewise, the conversation around mental health amongst musicians and creatives has been ever growing. From Stormzy to Lady Gaga, all corners of the music world are affected by mental health issues. As DJ Broadcast articulately explains, artists can suffer from things like a loss of a sense of self, imposter syndrome, media pressures, amongst many other things. Being an artist also often means being overworked and underpaid as well as exposing oneself on a personal level. These factors can create an environment in which artists are dehumanised and undervalued.
Bennington’s death, like Cornell’s and many others before them, makes us think hard about the environment in which people take their own lives and what could have been done to prevent it. Devastating news like this shouldn’t occur as often as it does. We all need to work harder to demolish the stigma around all mental health issues and make changes in our daily conversations with friends, family, colleagues and anyone else to make it clear that it is ok to have these problems and seek help. Rest in peace, Chester Bennington.
If you are struggling with mental health issues or want to find out more, we hope the following can help:
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
Help Musicians UK
Music and Depression Campaign
Turn2Me (Free online counselling)