July 20th for me began like any other day, which meant, of course, checking social media. I clicked on the Facebook icon on my phone, expecting to see the usual posts on my feed, but what I found instead was something I wasn’t prepared to hear. That morning, Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park, had committed suicide.
When I saw the article, I was in complete disbelief. I just stared at the screen refusing to believe the words in front of me, but once I logged in to Twitter and saw the news trending, my heart sank.
How could this be happening?
Linkin Park has been one of my favorite bands since I was about ten years old. Unlike other people, I actually discovered the band through AMVs, which if you’re unfamilar with, are anime music videos. At the time, Linkin Park had been used for so many fan-created anime videos. The one that I was familiar with was Dragon Ball Z. Throughout the course of the show, each of the characters experience different emotions, both positive and negative, such as sadness, fear, doubt, hurt, anger, hope, strength, and perseverance. For a show that has hundreds of episodes, it can seem difficult to display those same emotions in a short fan video. However, every single Linkin Park song used for those videos depicted the emotions perfectly, and it was because of Chester.
His voice made me truly feel the lyrics he sang. So at the age of ten, Linkin Park became my favorite band, and one of my very first fandoms I joined. I bought their albums, memorized their lyrics, and binge-watched their music videos on YouTube. My earliest memories of YouTube are actually of Linkin Park’s music.
As the years passed, I continued to buy each of their albums, vote for them on every award show, and hear their songs in each of the Transformers movies. Then, on August 18th, 2014, I saw them live for the very first time at the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey.
Seeing them live was very surreal, and it brought back memories of when I was ten years old, hearing their songs in some fan-made music videos. What I loved about the show is that Chester delivered the same emotions as he did on the album, if not more. There was something very authentic about him and the fans screaming the same lyrics at the top of their lungs. Music was just another language that connected Chester and his fans.
The next year, in 2015, I was expecting to see Linkin Park live in concert again, but this time at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. However, just a few days before the show, I received an e-mail that the event had been cancelled due to a leg injury that Chester suffered. I was devastated, but knew that I would just buy tickets to another future tour.
This year, the band had announced their One More Light Tour, and the show closest to me was in Camden, New Jersey on August 1st. I wanted to purchase tickets, but due to my upcoming summer internship that would start the day before, I knew that once again, I could not see them perform live.
So now this takes us back to just a few days ago, when I heard the news of Chester’s passing. I felt a flood of sadness inside of me, knowing that he took his own life.
Chester was a very important part of my childhood, and he created a bond between my family and I through music. I will forever cherish the memories Chester has given me, and although he will never know, he helped me through many different obstacles in my life.
Mental illnesses are not being talked about enough, but they are very real.
Although we may not be able to see it, it is just as real and valid as a physical wound, and can be just as dangerous. We can’t ignore it.
Rest in peace Chester, we will miss you.
In case you or someone you know needs support, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.