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My Response to Chester Bennington’s Suicide - Volunteer for Hope Xchange to Prevent Others From Following In His Footsteps
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Brandi Douglas, a new volunteer LGBTQIA Mental Health Advocate & Blogger for Hope Xchange, for sharing her response to the passing of Chester Bennington and how that lead her to join our family.
Chester Bennington Dead. Possible Suicide?
It was a good day. No wait, it had been a wonderful day. I had caught up on my work, was getting a bit ahead for the next week when I clicked on my internet browser’s home screen and saw the news. This couldn’t be real.
Chester Bennington dead. Possible suicide?
Instantly, any work I was pondering slipped out of my thoughts and onto the floor. Convinced it was yet another celebrity internet hoax, I began to research. Outlet after outlet. Chester Bennington dies. Linkin Park lead singer dies, suicide. Lead singer of Linkin Park commits suicide on fellow singer and friend Chris Cornell’s birthday. One page after the other, the same news, the same ending. My heart fell into a place I did not know existed.
In that moment I didn’t quite know what to do, so I switched on some live streaming music of Linkin Park. I juggled between that and YouTube videos. YouTube videos and texts to my friends. Texts to friends, texts to my mother (whom I had introduced to Linkin Park) and then, back to my own thoughts. In a moment’s notice, I was frantic over the news and didn’t know quite how to process it.
When a Celebrity’s Suicide Hits Home
I never knew Chester Bennington. Sure, I had listened to Linkin Park religiously as a teen when they came out, but I had lost touch with the group’s activities. I believed maybe I had grown past that experience of adolescence.
Yet, in the moment that I realized that perhaps this wasn’t a hoax, I thought back to being 16. I thought back to coming out as a lesbian. I thought back to the desolateness that so many of us in the LGBTQIA community feel when we claim who we are and have to sit with the rejection that ensues.
But there was Linkin Park. There was a group and a singer that did not, for one moment, sugarcoat what hopelessness feels like. There, was a friend. In the days that followed, my heart remained heavy. I was experiencing grief and thought that perhaps my heart and mind were overdoing the whole thing.
My thoughts shifted from Chester Bennington to a friend turned aquaintance who had died the previous year by suicide. I thought back to how I responded to that and realized it was quite similar. I had visited a social media outlet I had her on, looking at all her pictures, staring into her eyes, trying to find an answer. I read the comments from others and tried vigorously to grasp every essence of what she may have been going through. I sent texts to friends who had known her. I grieved.
But just like that, I continued back to my daily routines. I had a life to live. I had responsibilities and nothing could be done about what had happened. I tried to move on and, although I’d occasionally go back to visit her social media to wonder how she must have felt, it was simply a book that needed to be closed. Or did it?
When Grief Drives Action
The lull of Chester Bennington’s death remained with me for days to follow, with thoughts of my friend interwoven. What ensued was a deeper thought process around suicide. One that didn’t involve me feeling useless, or that suicide was best swept under the carpet so that I may continue on, comfortable.
At any point in my experience in this life, I could have been there — on the brink, desperate for someone, for anyone to know me in my darkest places and live with me there for a moment. It was there as I sat with the idea of suicide, instead of shyly turning away, that I recognized Chester Bennington had lived his darkness out loud. That he sang words that shone like light for those who may have decided that life was not the answer. How could I not grieve for that kind of companion in life?
My heart lead me to wonder: What could I possibly do? Little old me? What did I have to offer a community of people suffering? So, I thought back to when I was 16. I thought about the moments when the air felt like razors or when my throat was raw from crying day in and day out. I thought about the days when confusion engulfed my thoughts or when another day, another hour, another minute went by with hopelessness seeming like an eternity. Then I thought about what helped me: my friends, family, guidance counselors, strangers and a little old band by the name of Linkin Park.
I ... We ... Have Work to Do Here at Hope Xchange
I realized it was okay to cry and hurt about this, as it is to grieve about anyone we lose to suicide. It is confusing and disheartening, but dammit, if we don’t have work to do.
I sought out volunteer opportunities following Chester Bennington’s death and came upon Hope Xchange, finding a home with those diligent in being a resource to those who are most vulnerable. A light for those, here and now, who may not think life is the answer. We’re here, always, to let them know that it is.
You can learn more about Brandi Douglas and why she has joined our all-volunteer team here.