Chester Bennigton’s suicide and depression

My tryst with Linkin Park began when I was in standard 6. My sister recently entered college, and she got a new computer. Casually browsing through her playlist, I came across this song called ‘Numb’. I had never heard anything like it. It seemed too much noise, but there was a tune to the noise. I could not make out the lyrics (probably because I was not a native English speaker). I listened to the song on loop, and suddenly the lyrics were comprehendible. I fell in love with the song. And thus was born a new fan of Linkin Park.
Back then, the internet used to be a low speed broadband in the home. Mobile internet was prohibitively expensive, and so I had to download all the songs (some of you might remember in my desktop computer (it used to take forever) but it was worth it. I do not what was in the songs that made me an ardent devotee of Linkin Park. My brother-in-law gifted me an iPod. It was roughly during the time I started additional science classes for engineering entrance examination in high school. The music from iPod was phenomenally better, and Chester’s voice was an enchantment.
Fast forward a couple of years and I found equally enthusiastic fans of Linkin Park among my batchmates. Castle of Glass and Hunting Party were roughly released during my undergraduate days. I used to listen them on loop.
Then I heard about the album, ‘One More Light’. They released a few tracks in the Apple Music Store. [By now I just stream music from Apple Music Store]. Their full album was released on May 19, 2017. I remember refreshing the Linkin Park’s Youtube channel to see whether they uploaded the remaining tracks were uploaded or not.
One More Light was significantly different from the previous albums. Some people criticized it. But, Chester’s voice was, as someone commented in one of the Youtube video ‘He sings like an angel but screams like a devil.’ You should listen to his cover of Adele’s ‘Rolling in the deep’. Adele is one of the brilliant voices of our generation. And only Chester could even measure up to that. He could match Adele’s soulfulness.
And then, on the day my girlfriend returned to Delhi after a brief vacation at Bangalore, he killed himself. I remember dropping her off at the airport and getting onto a BMTC bus. It was 4 am in the morning. I opened Facebook, and see my timeline flooded with condolence messages. Something stirred deep inside me. There was a dryness in my throat.
It took me a full week to recover from the shock. I never realized I will be impacted in this way by Chester’s death. I grew up with his music. As most of you would be aware, I am heading to KU Leuven, Belgium for my masters in September. One of the things I was looking forward to it was attending a live concert of Linkin Park in Europe. I made up my mind to save every penny to see Linkin Park live. [I also want to watch Adele perform live. I love that young lady. Such soulfulness.]
The thing with depression is that it will not be discernable from the external appearance of a person. Some people have this innate ability to swallow their feelings, and make no outward appearance of it. Talking freely about our own feelings does not come easily. Depression is a silent killer. It consumes an individual from the inside. There are people who keep telling me they hate Chester for killing himself. Well, he is gone now. It does not really matter whether we hate him or love him. A phenomenal artist of our generation is gone, because as a collective society we do not know how to battle depression. Such statements will impact negatively anyone who is trying to fight depression.
We must realize that some people cannot fight depression on their own. It’s like asking an injured person to climb a tree, and then castigating him or her for not being able to do it. There is a void in understanding of depression. We are already in the process of decriminalizing homosexuality across the world, maybe it’s time we spend our resources in understanding depression and creating an awareness of it. It’s time we do something about it.
Only when we start talking about an issue, we start stripping off the stigma around it layer by layer. And then everyone else becomes privy to the details which were never said out loud. Human beings are inherently irrational, but given the facts, we can straighten our thinking. We need to start talking about it.
‘Goodbye is not the only way’