To Brian Welch: Show Compassion, Not Criticism, for Suicide


Having lost my dad to suicide when I was 9, I can understand why Brian “Head” Welch, Korn guitarist, is angry at his friend, Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington — calling his suicide cowardly.

For decades, I was angry at my father for leaving my mother, a stay-at-home mom, to raise the five of us alone. I vowed at an early age that no matter how bad things got or how hopeless I felt, I would not do to anyone what my dad did to us.

But when I lost my beautiful son five years ago at the age of 25, I could not be angry for very long at the person I’d loved since the moment he was born. I felt so much pain from losing him, that death seemed preferable, so at last I could understand some of what he, and my father before him, must have felt.  When someone is in that much pain, they need help. They need to feel our compassion for them, not our judgement of them.

I believe that society’s lack of understanding of those in mental health crises causes suicidal individuals to scorn themselves. They would rather act on their pain than face any more anguish, confusion and criticism. It has to be seen as respectable, even laudable, for a man to admit “weakness” and seek help.  Life is too hard to soldier through alone.

Suicide is such a heartbreaking thing. First, because of the loss to the world of the talent, intelligence and beauty of the person who dies, and then because it sends out a wave of pain and despair that threatens to pull others under. Chester Bennington followed Chris Cornell.

I’ve learned to withhold criticism of others as someone who hasn’t been in the other person’s shoes. You never know what someone else has been through or what loads they may be carrying. We need to send messages of compassion so those who are struggling and feel the trials of this world so intensely will reach out for help and stay with us. We have to join hands as a community to reach those caught in a riptide.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Photo via Korn Facebook page and Linkin Park Facebook page.


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