Yesterday, July 20, 2017, the world found out that Chester Bennington died. While I like Linkin Park, I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan. All over social media, the world is echoing similar sentiments from nearly three years ago, when Robin Williams died. (Ironically, today, July 21, is Robin Williams’ birthday.) Unlike my pleasant yet lukewarm feelings about Chester Bennington, I absolutely adored Robin Williams and news of his death hit me hard. I thought about it for days, weeks, and still, a tear comes to my eye when I remember him. Both of these celebrities chose to end their lives by suicide.
While death always seems sad, there is a certain poignancy that comes when we hear of suicide. We can often feel deep sorrow for the person. We can also feel anger toward the person for leaving us. We may even feel that this person has been selfish to take his or her own life. To those who consider their actions “selfish,” let me present you with another point of view…
I have dealt with depression and anxiety most of my life. Hospitalized three times for these afflictions, I have been suicidal and have had thoughts of suicide more times than I can even count. I’m currently stable and happy and yet even I, who have had those thoughts numerous times, find it difficult to imagine how someone could take his or her own life. But, when we are in that state, our minds are not well. We are sick. Just as our kidneys or any other organ can malfunction, so can our brains. PET scans of brains of depressed individuals actually look different than brain scans of non-depressed individuals. We cannot think clearly and our perception of reality is skewed. We often find ourselves unable to think beyond our current pain. If “selfish” is in your vocabulary for these individuals who have taken their lives, please consider compassion and empathy. Oh, what deep despair these individuals must have felt to feel that this, the most tragic of endings, was the right path.
And to those who are depressed, if you begin to feel suicidal, seek help. Your mind is not well and you need help. Know that it is your biology, your brain, acting against you. Just as you would not be ashamed to seek help if you had any other physical sickness, do not be ashamed of this. Remember, you are loved. Please also know that there are so many organizations out there willing and wanting to help:
I have reached out to these helplines in the past. They are there for a reason: to help you.
And to Chester Bennington and to Robin Williams, my heart breaks for you. It breaks because I know that you could not see past your overwhelming, yet temporary, pain. I know how all-encompassing those painful feelings can be. I understand that you were not well. And yet, I wish you had remembered that “this feeling” will pass, just as it has every single other time. I wish you had felt how worthy you truly are and how much joy you bring to the whole world. I wish you had not been burdened with such pain that drove you to this tragic end. I wish… I wish… I wish… you had chosen another path. Because other paths were out there. May you now rest in peace.