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How I Felt After Reading Brian Welch's Response to Chester Bennington's Suicide

I recently read about a member of the band Korn and his response to Chester Bennington’s suicide. I thought his response would be memorial piece, a tribute to all of his work over the years or how his music helped the singer. This was not the case. His post was about the selfishness of Chester’s actions, how it was the “coward’s way out.” Many readers shared in this thinking. How could the lead singer of Linkin Park be sad? He’s well off, by all means. He has adoring fans. Loving members of the musical community. Not to mention a wife and kids.

Well when you put it all like that… wrong! 

Mental health is not “one size fits all.” Just because you would never do it doesn’t mean what Chester felt was any less valid or real. Just because you know someone who struggled with addiction and got themselves the help they needed and are now clean, does not make it easy to get there or mean everyone who struggles with addiction will get there. It’s the same situation if you know someone struggling with depression who takes their meds, is seemingly “high functioning” and smiles, does not mean everyone who is depressed will be able to do the same.

This does not mean they don’t recognize they need help or that they don’t want it. Mental illness often falls into a “gray area.” You can see all the things going wrong, feel all those terrible thoughts and know that you want to get better, but yet you can’t always bring yourself to get there. It makes it increasingly harder to get help when there are people out there who will shame you for feeling so lost that you think suicide is the only option. To shame someone so badly about how they feel will not make them reach out and get the help they need.

It’s not cowardly or selfish of someone who has taken their own life — it is tragic, heartbreaking and preventable. I urge those who judge or don’t understand suicide to think of how someone must feel to believe they are so out of options that they have to leave their families, kids, friends, pets, anything and anyone they have ever loved. That is rock bottom. It is a place you don’t want to be, and on some level, I hope most of you will never understand. To understand is to know, to know is to feel and I don’t wish those feelings on anyone.

I struggle on a daily basis to balance the thoughts I have of wanting to harm myself with the thoughts of all those who love me. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world and even harder when you have to be worried about judgment. Be kind and cautious with your words. To you it could seem impossible that you would ever leave your loved ones, but for someone else, they could believe it’s the only option left.

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 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Photo via Linkin Park Facebook page.

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