Chester Bennington & Chris Cornell: Post-Grunge Singer’s Inspiring Story On Overcoming Suicide


September 10th marked the start of 2017’s National Suicide Prevention Week. As a rock and roll fan, this subject is hitting all too close to home due to recent events. We lost Chris Cornell, and then his good friend Chester Bennington two months later to this terrible epidemic.

That’s what it is – it’s an epidemic. And it’s about time we start treating it as such.

Depression, anxiety – mental illnesses in general taint everyone’s life at one point or another. Whether it’s you, a loved one or a friend, or even just someone who inspires you, we all feel the burden at some point. It’s inevitable, it’s part of human nature. Just like cancer, diabetes, and any other disease. We’re all susceptible if not already predisposed.

As a psychology major, I can’t tell you if my family is really as plagued as it seems or if I just go around over-diagnosing every little behavior, but I have witnessed mental illness both in family members and in myself. I’m not ashamed to write those words or to have thousands of people read them. It’s better to put it out there than to bottle it up, because unfortunately, that’s when it wins.

Of course we are posting an article about this subject because it has been very personal for music fans lately. But it’s very personal for people every single day. We need to look at instances of suicide in popular figures like Chris Cornell, Robin Williams, and Chester Bennington as a lesson. No, we do not know how unbearable their pain must’ve been to resort to such a decision, but we know the impact it has once it’s committed. One departure from this world is enough to entirely crush someone else’s.

There have already been copycat suicides linked to those of Chris and Chester. I understand how impressionable you can become when you are very influenced by an artist. Chris Cornell was an enormous inspiration to me and I’m still hurting over his death. But Alternative Nation implores you to look elsewhere when you are in the darkness. Look for the light, look to artists who have conquered their demons rather than submitting to them.

Take Shaun Morgan, for example. He’s the lead singer of Seether. You can’t listen to Seether’s music without concluding that he was obviously very depressed at one point to have written words like that. In plenty of interviews in the past, he opened up about his depression and his recurring thoughts of suicide. He went into detail about the hardships he dealt with during his childhood that contributed to such despairing feelings. He said goodbye to his younger brother for one last time before he discovered he had jumped out the window the second he shut the door.

I met and interviewed Shaun at Welcome to Rockville this past April. He told me about Rise Above Fest, which he started to raise awareness about suicide and depression. At one point, he said, “I used to be very depressed.” Used to. After all he had been through, after fighting his urges to end his life after all those years, he took it all and turned it into a good cause, and now he is able to speak of his depression as a matter of the past. Seether’s lyrics went from, “It seems like everything is grey and there’s no color to behold,” to “I’ve fallen down, but I’ll rise above this doubt.” Yours can too.

Don’t let anyone tell you that your problems aren’t bad enough. Your life doesn’t have to suck for you to feel sad and alone. All that matters is that you face it, you fight it, and you beat it. It’s a shame that we’ve lost so many talented people to this, but it sucks more that we lose millions of people to it all the time and no one talks about it. End the stigma, get the help you need or urge others to get it for themselves, and live the life you were given, because we only get one. And it doesn’t matter how California you look if you’re feeling Minnesota.

You can do it.

Lauryn Schaffner