photo from dnaindia.com
By Hunter Frederick
I’m sure a lot of you have heard the news by now, but allow me to paint a picture in your heads, rather than rehash the same boring paragraph that begins a lot of news articles.
It was Thursday, July 20th and I was doing some work in my house, going between my room to the basement and back again. While I was working, I was listening to music on my phone. But, I had failed to charge it the night before and it died after only a few songs. Annoyed, I set it up to charge in my room in and went about my business.
Admittedly, at this point, I got distracted and ended up watching the latter half of Straight Outta Compton. The movie finished, and I finished up my work, and headed back up to room to finally relax. I checked my phone and to my delight, I was thrilled to see a decent amount of notifications. I did a quick scan of them, looking for anything important; text messages or missed calls. Then, my heart sank, as I read that Chester Bennington, 41, had died.
I exclaimed, and said something I probably should not write and publish without censor. I was shocked.
How could this happen? Why did this happen? Was it an OD? Did he have a disease? As the news rolled in, I learned that he had allegedly committed suicide; my heart sank further still. I knew Bennington and Linkin Park were big when my friends and I grew up; a lot of people I knew would be crushed by this news.
So, I did what I often do in that situation; I check on people. Just a simple, “Hey are you ok?” just to make sure. Also, often when something big and newsworthy happens, I’ll write a quick post about it on Facebook and cite a source, just for those who may not have access news apps but can access Facebook. But when I logged on to Facebook all I saw was news of Bennington’s passing. People were sharing the news like wildfire. When I saw that, I deleted my post. The news was hard enough for some people and it was going to be all over the internet for the next few days; I felt I didn’t need to add to that.
What I did not expect to find were social media posts complaining about how people were going to be posting Linkin Park song lyrics everywhere for the next few days. Some people were actually upset that people “suddenly cared about Linkin Park even though they only know two songs”. Maybe the most repulsive of all, were those that said Bennington was a coward for committing suicide and leaving behind his 6 children.
To all these people I say: How dare you? Listen, I don’t give a hoot about how many Linkin Park songs someone knows, if they can name the band members, if they ever seen them live, or if they’ve never even heard of Linkin Park until this tragedy. A man took his own life. He felt, that things were so bad, that there was only one way out.
It is not the time to debate who was a bigger fan, or who really cares, or who has the right to be hurt by this. Those that imply that there is some sort of threshold, or fan level, or criteria you must meet to be affect by this are fools, they are wrong and they should be ashamed of themselves. And to imply that suicide is a thing for cowards demonstrates a complete lack of empathy and poor understanding of mental health issues.
Whenever something like this happens, it’s tough. It’s unfortunate and heartbreaking and demoralizing, especially when it’s a beloved public figure. The music of Linkin Park helped a lot of people through a tumultuous adolescence and other troubling times. To see someone like Bennington, who was held up as a savior and champion to some, brought down by the very thing they’ll say he saved them from, is crushing.
But from the tragedy, I think a lesson can be learned. Or rather, we are reminded of a truth that often goes ignored; you never know what someone is dealing with in their life. You might know if you’re very close to them and they tell you. If they don’t, you’re likely to be clueless. To some, the idea that a famous rockstar with millions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of fans would ever take his own life is baffling. But I think it exemplifies that you truly never know what going on with someone and that money and fame don’t equal happiness. It’s never a bad idea to check on people, even if it’s just a quick “Hey, how are you?” and letting them know you care and you’re there for them if they need anything.
To summarize: Your words can make a massive difference in the lives of others. What kind of difference you try to make, is up to you.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this piece do not reflect the opinions of the Stony Brook Independent as a whole.