I was quite young when Kurt Cobain took his life. His wife, Courtney Love sort of reaped from the fruits of his fame. Sort of, because as years went by, the poor woman became a total wreck, weighed down by drugs and the remains of a blotched facelift that left her bordering on ugly. Once Cobain died, she made constant headlines-but for all the wrong reasons. Like her late husband, she was a victim of depression, suffering it far longer than he most likely did.
Michael Hutchence, frontman of INXS sang one of my best rock/alternative songs, Elegantly Wasted. Michael had an impressive career; I found out that besides being the lead singer of a band, he was an actor. He too was found dead at a hotel in Sydney with his death later found to be as a result of suicide.
There are other old time rockstars who took their lives in the past-Richard Manuel, Tom Evans, Boston lead singer Brad Delp, who 10 years ago lit two charcoal grills in his bedroom and sealed the door. He died of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
Today, the world mourns Chester Bennington of Linkin Park fame who hung himself at this home in California, yesterday. This comes just two months after his friend, Chris Cornell, another Rock Singer, hung himself at his hotel, following a concert performance in Detroit. And Cornell’s last tweet?
#Detroit finally back to Rock City!!!! @soundgarden #nomorebullshit’
Getting fans excited till the next day they had to use the hashtag along with one that said #RIP. Here’s the thing though, did the hashtag carry with it a warning?
- #nomorebullshit- I’m about to kill my self
- Please tell me there’s #nomorebullshit so that ill stay. Promise me.
Or perhaps these cries for help are buried in the lyrics of their songs? A quick look at Bennington’s latest song, Heavy, released on February 17, 2017.
I don’t like my mind right now
Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary
Wish that I could slow things down
I wanna let go but there’s comfort in the panic
And I drive myself crazy
Thinking everything’s about me
Yeah, I drive myself crazy
‘Cause I can’t escape the gravity
Obviously Bennington didn’t take the death of his friend well. The rocker had spiralled down into a deep dark place that needed clinical intervention. Looking at the date Heavy was released and when cornel died, I feel Bennington’s depression had been on for a while and his friend’s suicide only nudged him that way. Here’s why I think so.
It’s in his farewell note to Cornel:
I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with Rocky Raccoon playing in my head and a concerned look my wife’s face. She told me my friend had just passed away. Thoughts of you flooded my mind and I wept. I’m still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude for having shared some very special moments with you and your beautiful family. You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known.
I’ll be honest; I am not a Linkin Park fan. In fact the only song of theirs that comes to mind is Encore, which they did with JayZ. But when my friend, Moji –an avid fan- texted yesterday telling me about his death and Google later explained that it was as a result of suicide, I felt it was one rockstar death too many.
And again I have to ask about those who interacted with or lived about Chester Bennington. Didnt they notice he was depressed? Some would say they never knew, or that he looked ’perfectly fine’ that morning. Others, ‘well he knew he could always come to me for help’
The thing is Bennington did reach out. It’s all he did in that song Heavy. The grey depressed look and feel of the video , the rushes that showed him in physical combat with himself and again the lyrics?
I’m holding on
Why is everything so heavy?
So much more than I can carry
I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down
If I just let go, I’d be set free
Why is everything so heavy?
And if this isn’t a cry for help, I don’t know what it is .
A friend once told me about how his childhood friend took his life. He said he’d been depressed when he found out but more than that, he admired his friend for the courage. For some reason, I think Bennington too felt some inspiration from Cornel. He’d called out and no one answered; or heard, maybe. So sad.
We all need to open our hearts, hear and help. Depression is real and suicide shouldn’t even be an option. Rest in peace Chester Bennington. We the world should have done more.