Content warning: suicide, depression
The tragic death of Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, burns to this day.
We’ve seen celebrity deaths. Michael Jackson’s was a shocking event that shook media and fans for months. I still remember my mother crying in her room as Whitney Houston’s funeral came to a close. My roommate’s mother mourned at work when we learned Prince left us for the doves in the sky.
But when Chester Bennington passed from suicide, I felt my world shatter.
During my middle school years in the midst of the bullying and isolation due to loving anime, I sought solace in many bands. Linkin Park was one of the top three that really expressed my emotions through music in ways I struggled to. Songs like “Numb” and “Breaking the Habit” perfectly articulated what it was like to feel alone in the world when trying to reach out. “Somewhere I Belong” gave the longing to find a place to be in without judgment.
Chester showed that others feel the same way.
Artists create beauty out of pain, and Chester Bennington flawlessly did that. Suffering from addiction and growing up with traumatic life experiences, he turned those stories into music. That music connected with those who didn’t have a support system, a healthy coping mechanism, a light in their lives. It spoke to Black kids. Black nerds especially connected with Linkin Park as they forever dealt with the mental health issues stigmatized by the community. We couldn’t speak about the bullying, the loneliness, the fear, the confusion of not knowing our place in the world outside of hate. Linkin Park connected with Black nerds like me.
So when news of Chester’s suicide spread through media, I felt empty. To see someone fight for so long and so hard struggle to keep going on, I too felt that in my core. For many, there was a loss for what to do seeing our beacon, the one who validated our pain, leave us.
He got us through so much, and one year later his music still has a powerful affect.
One year later and us Black nerds are still going to Linkin Park when we feel like the outcasts. One year later and “What I’ve Done” is still beautiful outside the Transformers soundtrack. It’s been a year and the pain will probably never truly fade. But, the appreciation and love for the person who helped us know our demons did not define us will never change.
We love you.
We thank you.
Rest in peace. Rest in power.
If you or someone you love needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or speak to their counselors online.