R.I.P. Chester (1976-2017)
I’ve been waiting to do this post because of the heat. I wanted to make sure the official ruling was out before I did so. His death has come on Chris Cornell’s birthday, I am not sure if that was intentional or not. Nonetheless, he followed in his footsteps. (Long post. Trigger warning: Mental Illness and Addiction.)
I was never a Linkin Park fan per se. I tried to get into them as a teen, but I could not jive with Hybrid Theory. I also think my local rock station of the time, overplayed them, specifically the song ‘Numb’. Make no mistake, however, I never hated their music and I do not have anything against them personally.
This blog will be longer than my Chris one. The reason being is I want to talk mental illness and suicide. Cornell and Cobain did not receive nearly as much backlash as Chester seems to be getting. (Though I wasn’t around much for the years after Kurt died.) I am sick of it. Comments like these are more than a little annoying.
There’s a combination of factors that play out. These include such things as being in an unhealthy environment, mental illness, being around the wrong people, and addiction. I recall Courtney Love in some interview I cannot find anymore, (She’s done a lot of them in her 30 year career. So, I am going by memory.) about why she started hanging out with Hollywood stars vs rockstars later on. She spoke of how the rock industry wants you to die young because it sells better and she described it something along the lines of a “cult of death”. She wanted to live, so she chose a different circle.
I believe Cobain’s death attest to that. (He makes about 100 million a year NOW, when he was alive it was more like 6 million. Literally, worth more dead than alive, and he certainly is not the only one!) But I can also see this in such fantastic ideals as the 27 Club, which mind you, has been debunked, yet remains an ever popular myth. Or how many bands parade the rock n’ roll [destructive] lifestyle as something to aspire to, (I love you AC/DC but c’mon!) while it kills many, many rockstars and continues to do so. (If they are alive, they still have drugs and/or sex addictions, afterwards. On top of numerous health problems that come with abusing your body for a long period of time.)
If rock music is dead, it killed itself because it keeps wasting the talent. It will take more and more talented people down with it, too. The music industry keeps selling it because tragedy sells, a lot. This is why they encourage this behavior in their musicians. The media helps with this, because sex, drugs, and bad stuff sells the paper/magazine/article. No one wants to hear about how Ozzy didn’t wash the dishes when Sharon wanted him to or if he actually saved a village in Africa from starvation that one time. They want the MEAT, the DIRT, and all juicy details of his sexcapades from the 1970’s that involve as many people as possible or him cheating on his wife. There is no room for complacency or normalcy, and especially not anything healthy. (God forbid, they act like regular humans such as ourselves.) Just self-destruct like you always do, Ozzy! At this rate, don’t expect anything new. People will keep dropping like flies because of this type of encouragement.
Now, if you’re similar to Chester or Chris, it makes it much more difficult to NOT self-destruct. It’s hard to go on tour when the environment is encouraging you to be as decadent as possible. Especially, if you already have addiction issues which typically stem from past trauma in your life. (Usually pre-fame.) When everyone is saying that you can do anything you want, no matter how much of a bad idea it actually is. But most of all, there is some sort of powerful niche market, that profits on death and destruction, [Unhealthy behaviors in general.] which makes it all but impossible to beat mental illness. Then to top it all off, you have some musicians and fans, who just don’t get it when you do lose it and have no sympathy.
Having a family or kids doesn’t matter if you’re that mentally ill. Your mind makes it believable that if you really do care about them, which of course you do, that’s why you’d kill yourself because that would be the best thing for them. Sure, that doesn’t sound right to someone of a healthy mind. But for someone with chemical imbalances in the brain, it sounds applicable to ‘help’ your loved ones by killing yourself. Your depressed brain therefor justifies it in an act that is ‘out of love’.
If you’re unstable, you have irrational thoughts. These thoughts are the kinds of things that sound cliche, but with bad illness are sound advice. “They’d be better off without me!” is a common thought process, and one Kurt and Chris probably had. It may be followed by “No one really cares about the real me.” “Nobody loves me for who I am.” and “I cause other people too much sorrow and pain. It would be better if I were dead. They would be better off, too.” The illness makes this all sound as though these ideas are perfectly logical and reasonable. It doesn’t sound rational here, but to a depressed person on one of their episodes, it is.
For some, they try to drown their thoughts and slowly self-destruct through addictions. Layne Staley came to mind, who definitely was deeply troubled. This is an act of self-medicating. Kurt and Chris took a more practical approach and just did it in the middle of their careers, when they demon of depression came back to haunt them for the final time. I am sure this is also true of Chester, though I do not know him very well.
It’s as if the mind, which has turned against you, makes it real for you. If we treated mentally ill people in the manner of which we treat the physically ill, because it’s an illness in the brain, we know they cannot just “get over it”. Now Imagine saying “Get over it.” or “You’re selfish and cowardly for wanting that.” to an understandably suicidal terminal cancer patient! It’s not so easy is it?
That isn’t to say these people did not have happy times in their lives or they were never happy. Mental illness doesn’t rare it’s head all the time, in most cases. They had good and bad days like everyone does. But the bad was exaggerated in the head. It wasn’t their fault, per se, because they could not help it.
So what I am saying, is lay the fuck off of people who are suicidal and depressed.