I have never truly been a fan of Linkin Park, but the recent suicide of lead singer Chester Bennington resonates with me as if I had been listening to them for years. Soon after I read about his death and found out that he did not leave a suicide note, I began to look for answers within their music. We all know now that Chester was struggling with something, but how obvious did he make it for us? Did he really have to leave a note for someone to find?
Their recent album is titled One More Light and as I broke down each track, I concluded on which ones I believed were his cry for help and which ones seemed to be tying up loose ends with people or providing closure for certain events in his life. I feel that Nobody Can Save Me, Battle Symphony, and Heavy were the most obvious “red flag” songs on the entire album. However in today’s society, it is so common for people to romanticize depression or suicidal thoughts that it is possible no one even tried to evaluate the situation until it was too late.
Now, I’m not saying that I know everything and that this album was all we needed to know that Chester was hurting and moving closer to the edge. I’m just saying that maybe, just maybe, he was hiding his feelings in the music.
The first track on the album, titled Nobody Can Save Me, seems like an outright statement of “there’s no hope for me so why try?” It is an incredibly catchy song that I actually enjoy, but with lyrics like “I’m dancing with my demons, I’m hanging off the edge,” there is clearly a deeper meaning indicated here. I believe there are references to God, because Bennington says, “You tell me it’s alright, tell me I’m forgiven tonight, but nobody can save me now.” Apparently Chester believed that he had hit his lowest point that not even God could rescue him. He then says, “I’m holding up a light,” which obviously indicates surrender, to death I’m assuming. The lyrics in this song that stick out to me the most are probably, “I chose a false solution, but nobody proved me wrong.” Suicide being the false solution because though it would end all of the pain and hurt someone is feeling, it would cause more pain within others, family, friends, etc., and ultimately not solve anything. “Nobody proved me wrong,” hits hard because it’s as if no one cared enough or understood enough to help or change his mind.
Note: I am not trying to sound insensitive about any of this. I just can’t believe the lie that suicide will solve all of your problems if you are hurting. It doesn’t solve anything because it is a sudden end. Imagine depression, or anxiety, whatever it may be, as a bully that is beating you – trying to kill you – and you keep fighting it and fighting it until you feel like you can’t fight anymore. So you kill yourself. You have given that bully exactly what it wants; your death. The problem isn’t fixed, you just lost the fight.
In the article I read about Chester’s death, I noticed that his close friend, Chris Cornell, had died in nearly the exact same way. I don’t believe it is coincidence at all that he died on Cornell’s birthday, or that his suicide was nearly identical to his friend’s. On One More Light, there is a song called Battle Symphony, which I believe references Chris Cornell’s death and how Chester may or may not have been dealing with it. The first verse of the song says, “I got a long way to go, and a long memory. I’ve been searching for an answer, always out of reach. Blood on the floor, sirens repeat, I’ve been searching for the courage to face my enemies.” When I first heard those words I immediately thought denial and confusion. This man just lost his best friend and he has no idea why and he cannot accept it.
Finally, the song we all know and have heard on the radio more times than we can count: Heavy. It is all the rage nowadays for people to latch on to songs that pull on their heartstrings and leaves them “in their feels.” Everyone wants to claim that they are mentally ill weather they really are or not, so it is no shock that this song caught on so well. (I admit, it is a good song so don’t get me wrong.) To me, this song is the “letting go” part of whatever process Chester was going through when trying to get this message out. In the first verse he says, “I want to let go but there’s comfort in the panic,” which I take as a little bit of fear because of the decision he has made.
There is so much more I could say, but it is honestly too hard for me. I hate things like this because the number of suicides every year in the United States is continuously increasing. It is said that every sixteen minutes, someone in the US takes their own life. I just can’t wrap my brain around that. It is easy for me to say “If you feel down and out, make sure you talk to someone about it before something bad happens,” but I think we need to take action ourselves instead of waiting for someone with suicidal thoughts to open up to us (because they won’t, they’re going to keep that quiet until it’s too late).
We need to know the signs and pay more attention to the people we love and the people around us. We are too consumed in stupid things like our status on Facebook or Snapchat stories about what the Kardashians posted on Instagram. It isn’t too hard to ask someone how they are doing or how they feel, and actually mean it.
I hope Chester Bennington is resting peacefully now, along with his buddy Chris Cornell, and my heart is with all of the Linkin Park fans.
Peace, Love, and Rock and Roll.