When The Person Who Prevented Your Suicide Dies By Suicide » VSB

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When The Person Who Prevented Your Suicide Dies By Suicide

Mike Windle/Getty Images for Spike


Linkin Park saved my life.

I attempted suicide at 14, and the gnawing feeling to try again did not subside easily. I’ve lived with depression for the last 20 years. It was extremely hard to find the words for most of my life that could reveal the pain I was in daily. Especially during my youngest years, the inability to express to the people that caused me harm or how I truly felt left me so distraught. Until I first heard “One Step Closer” while watching TRL on a fateful spring day in 2000. I stood still and absorbed every moment of this small man with a loud, powerful voice, describe every single negative thought I had in my mind at that moment. Chester Bennington became my weapon against my darkness.

Between Hybrid Theory and Meteora, the civil unrest that lurked deep in my soul finally had a voice. For so many years, the demons that rattled loudly in my mind quieted the moment I sung the lyrics to “Crawling” or “Somewhere I Belong.” Chester’s voice just spoke every possible variant of sadness, anger, desperation, and loneliness that came along when I was held captive by depression.

Everything mattered from the guitar riffs, the beats, and lyrical tone, but Chester’s voice had ability to jump from rage to somberness in a manner that seemed unnatural when I was trying to purge all the negativity inside me. I knew just by listening to Chester that he had been where I’d been. Want to break everything around you? Damn sure will while listening to “Faint.” Feeling detached from the world? There’s no way “Numb” doesn’t speak to you. A kindred connection was created when I listened to those first two Linkin Park albums.

I am alive today partially because Chester spoke to my soul in a way no other human being could.

So to know he has committed suicide at 41 years-old is a reminder to me that just because someone provides the opportunity for you to battle your demons does not mean they were just as successful. The thing about depression is it can defy the rules of life. It does not have to make sense. All that is required are those moments of self-doubt. Painful memories. Thoughts of being inadequate. Feelings caused by being ignored, outcasted, diminished, abused in any manner, losing loved ones or being introduced to death at some point. That’s when the voices start speaking, consuming every positive notion you can muster and dragging you down slowly, like quick sand. Depression is literally a stalker, waiting for the right moment to strike.

It’s easy to assume that being famous and rich should have changed Chester’s outlook on life. That does not mean the work necessary to repair the void Chester may have had was complete. Material wealth and life-changing experiences do not guarantee happiness. They can add to it for sure, but nothing is promised. Especially for people who voiced the emotions that a whole generation could relate to. Ask Kurt Cobain. Ask Robin Williams. Ask Chris Cornell. Ask Amy Winehouse — who did not commit suicide but had an uncanny ability to sing about pain. They all provided solace to millions who did not have the means to express the voicelessness residing deep within, and yet these celebrities could not defy how much their own pain was corroding their pursuit of happiness.

I wish Chester peace. I wish that now his soul can rest. I wish for his pain to finally be released.

Joel Philip

Joel Philip is 30-something from the land of bullets and blueberry muffins known as Brooklyn, N.Y. He specializes in being awkward, daydreams of being Mr. Robot and tries to live the theme of Toy Story 3 every day of his life.

  • Jack Freeman

    I feel you, brother. I appreciate you coming forward to use this opportunity to discuss mental health. We need more like this, and more like you.

  • Hugh Akston

    Damn don’t know where to start

    Or what words to use

    But thank you for penning this

    Gonna put on “one more light on replay” for now

  • Marceline

    My first depressive episode hit in my 20s. I can’t imagine if it had showed up in my early teens.

    You’re very right that once you consider suicide (My attempt was New Year’s Eve 1995) and option it takes a long time to get back to a point where it doesn’t always sit at the back of your brain whispering. Thanks for sharing this. Right now you’re doing for someone else what Chester did for you.

    • Charles Johnson

      Summer 2016. Depression is a specter that lives with me, I’m learning to keep it as a roommate and not a warden keeping me chained up.

      • blueevey

        August 17 2015.

      • Jasmine

        That’s an awesome way to look at it. Definitely still learning on this end.

        (Edit: One Punch Man is awesomeeeeee!!)

        • Charles Johnson

          ONE PUNCH! Do it in the scream voice when you say it!

  • Cleojonz

    I want to give you the biggest e-hug. I’m really glad you are still with us and have come to really appreciate your voice.

    This particular suicide really bothered me because he has 6 children. I ache for those kids. At the same time just like you said no amount of money or work can fill that void sometimes. Even with resources there sometimes is no relief. I wish peace for all of you battling depression.

  • Glo

    This particular celebrity death hit me harder than most, and I think it’s because Chester was also such a big part of my adolescence. I really do hope he has found some measure of peace, and I hope his family can find some solace in knowing that he meant so much to so many people.

  • Lisss

    The last 24 hours have only been bearable because i’m discovering all of the black fans of LP.
    For me, this is Michael Jackson all over again.
    Still feels like a nightmare.

  • FKA her

    I know exactly how you feel, Rewind. I am still mourning Chris Cornell’s death, and now Chester. I have been depressed for 20 years and Linkin Park played a huge role in making me feel like I wasn’t alone. I wonder, if this person with all of the resources in the world still couldn’t get that help everyone talks about, is there hope for me?

    Chester suffered a lifelong battle as a result of being r*ped and m*lested by an older male friend when he was a little boy. Just like many of R. Kelly’s victims, he was scarred. Unlike the Kelly victims, Chester had a voice and was able to express his pain and be believed. But that wasn’t enough. Some scars can never heal. And I’m devastated.

    • blueevey

      >is there still hope for me?

      That’s what I said with Robin Williams passing. Happy birthday to him. . . Honestly, I think his death has affected me the most, even more than family passing

      • Marceline

        The loss of Robin Williams was such a gut punch. He overcame so much and brought so much joy. That was a man who took his suffering and transformed it into light over and over and over again. Then to learn that he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s? I just wanted to scream.

        • Tam

          I think that is what surprises a lot of us when certain person die as a result of suicide. Their ability to put a smile on others face often mask their own pain, a practical reminder that not every skin teeth is a laugh.

          • LMNOP

            Some people with really significant mental health problems are also just really funny. I think a sense of humor can really help some people cope with scary symptoms and be about as genuine as it gets, it’s not always just putting a mask on.

            I have no idea if that makes sense lol, it made sense in my head.

            • Tam

              People adopt a lot of coping mechanisms. I try to open up when i feeling particularly lonely because i have a nasty habit of shutting people out because i think i can solve it myself. It took years and counseling to recognize that my approach is not always the best. It’s not easy but i try.

              • Transbutter

                I’m the same way. You could have an INFJ personality. We’re really sensitive and introverted and will disappear when we need to recharge.

          • Malaika Aaron-Bishop

            ???@”not every skin teeth is a laugh” where you from?

            • Tam

              Hehehe. Caribbean, southern . Lol

              • Malaika Aaron-Bishop

                Lol, seeing that sentence made me smile so hard! (Guyanese)

                • Tam

                  Hahaha. I can imagine.

        • Kullervo

          Robin was terrifying because he made it THAT far and lived THAT immense and spectacular of a life and still lost the battle.

    • Stanley

      Wow. A couple of things:

      There is absolutely hope for you fam.

      Secondly, you make such a powerful point about the women and girls victimized by R-Kelly. We all have to do better

    • esa

      ~ I wonder, if this person with all of the resources in the world still couldn’t get that help everyone talks about, is there hope for me?

      to be honest: YES. there is more than hope, there is actualizing a dream you may have never articulated to yourself. i never ever saw a future, because i couldn’t make sense of the past, and i lived in a world that told me mental illness was a terminal illness.

      i was forced (through circumstance and personality) to forgo every single thing and go on sheer blind faith. ahh my eyes burn just thinking of it. @#%$%&^#@$. it took years, and so much sacrifice, and so much truth. but it worked. it did.

      VSB, the space and the people, was the catalyst. there’s no where else in the world i could say the things i’ve said and work through the issues, both psychological and philosophical, that had me inside out.

      it takes time and commitment and courage and sacrifice, and i’m only starting to get the awareness that it is finally OVER. tho to be honest, sanity ain’t no cakewalk. but it is possible if you, in the words of Negro Libre, become your own priest.

      • LMNOP

        VSB has made a huge difference in my life like this too.

        • esa

          i’m so glad ~*~ there’s something so amazing about sharing in this way ~*~

    • LMNOP

      There is hope for you, I promise.

      And so true about the kinds of scars that never heal. Being raped and molested hurts something really deep inside of you.

      Take care of yourself, and I wish you peace of mind.

    • grownandsexy2

      I wish R. Kelly had gotten help for his chexxual abuse. Maybe he wouldn’t be headline news today.

      • Tam

        I do not think people like R Kelly want help.

        • grownandsexy2

          Yeah, I’m sure at this point, R. Kelly does not want help but can’t help but think what his life would be like had he received help early in life.

  • 44isnojoke

    Such a sad situation. My daughter “thought” about it once. I only thing I could tell her was to find something anything that brought her joy…and hang on tight! He lost his buddy and I guess that was enough for him to let go.

  • VeronicaMars

    Thank you for this. It’s a daily, monthly, yearly, lifetime war/battle for many of us. It can be one small (but big) thing. It can be an accumulation of things that tip us over. Everyone’s battle and path is different, and I don’t fault or judge someone that chooses to stop fighting. Sometimes we have victories, but other times we’re defeated.

    Chester’s death hurt a lot of us that grew up battling against a life that isn’t always kind. Linkin Park came to the scene when you can listen to lyrics and hear both the pain and the strength. And a lot of us needed those songs to get by. Thanks for this piece.

    • FromTokyo

      It’s hard listening to their songs now because I never paid attention to how many of them were about death/dying/suicide.

  • Val

    Great post, Rewind. *BIGeHUG*

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