Yesterday, Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, took his own life. I’m sure you’ve read countless articles and seen it splashed all over social media by now so I won’t recite the details again. You’ve also probably already seen the conversations around how this has been happening more and more as of late amongst middle aged men of profession (Chris Cornell, Robin Williams).
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have gone through the comments to many of these articles, especially the one about Korn guitarist calling Chester a coward. Due to Chester leaving behind a wife, 6 children and countless devastated friends and fans, people just can’t get their head around how someone could do that to people they love. So I pose the question…
Is suicide really selfish?
I’m probably both the best and worst person to talk about this subject. Yes, I’ve been left behind by a parent who ended their own life but I’m also not going to want to accept anyone saying anything negative about my mother. So I’ll come at it from a different angle – my own experiences with suicidal thoughts.
It’s no surprise with my BPD and mental health history that suicide is something I have contemplated and even taken a few steps towards once or twice in my life. With my mother’s passing, I became convinced I was destined to follow the same fate as her and before that I just couldn’t ever see an end to the sadness and hopelessness I felt. There are moments in the dark when you can’t see light. You can’t ever imagine feeling happiness or hope or having the strength to take another step. In those moments you don’t think about the devastation of those you leave behind, but maybe even their relief that they don’t have to see you suffer anymore and you don’t have to watch the hurt in their eyes every time you fall. There are moments when suicide seems like the only option. There are moments when it feels like it will fix everything for everyone.
And that’s exactly what suicide is. It’s a moment.
Like a relapsing addict or a crime of passion, it’s a moment where everything grabs at you from all angles and hurtles you towards your first instinct. Flight. Leave. Go – get out. Make it stop. Most of us fight it. Most of us are still truly afraid to leave so we fight the instinct and cling on until the moment passes. And then a little light gets in, something that feels like hope sparks in our chest and we fight another day. Sometimes, some people lose their grip and the moment takes them.
People have fought so hard for the right for people suffering terminal illness to decide to be euthanized. To die with dignity because they are so tired of fighting. I do not condone suicide in the slightest and I think there is always hope for anyone suffering with their mental illness – but you have to look at it from a perspective that isn’t filled with disbelief and anger for those left behind.
So, no. I don’t feel like suicide is selfish or cowardly. It’s a desperate moment from a person who has been so brave for so long.
To anyone feeling this way what I will say is this: Life is so surprising. Just as you can have the rug ripped out from under you at any moment, happiness and hope can come around any corner at any time. There are people, opportunities, places, great days you haven’t even experienced yet and they’re just sat waiting for you to have the strength to get to them. You have survived everything you thought you wouldn’t, every bad day and terrifying night you’ve felt locked it your own head with no escape you’ve always made it to dawn.
So, stay alive for the surprise.
My heart goes out to Chester and his friends, fans and family.