The lead singer of the rock group Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, was found dead in his apartment last Thursday. He apparently hanged himself on his bedroom door – his suicide purportedly spurred by his dark history of childhood sexual abuse. Like millions of other Americans, the singer struggled with depression and substance abuse in the years leading up to his death.
According to Billboard magazine, the Los Angeles County coroner confirmed Bennington’s death by suicide and found a half empty bottle of alcohol at the scene – one of Bennington’s drugs of choice. The singer took his life on what would have been the birthday of Chris Cornell, Bennington’s close friend and the late singer of grunge rock group Soundgarden. During May of this year, Cornell also committed suicide through asphyxiation. Bennington had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts since his childhood and was outspoken about the cause of his poor mental health: six years of childhood sexual abuse.
In a 2006 interview with Kerrang, Bennington said he withstood violent sexual abuse from age seven to thirteen from a teenage friend. In the interview, he explained that he feared to disclose the assault to his family and friends during his childhood:
I didn’t want people to think I was gay or that I was lying. It was a horrible experience.
The singer explained in a 2016 interview with Metal Hammer magazine that he began abusing illicit drugs at a young age as a coping mechanism:
I was on 11 hits of acid a day. I dropped so much acid I’m surprised I can still speak! I’d smoke a bunch of crack, do a bit of meth and just sit there and freak out.
Linkin Park fans related to Bennington through the pain expressed in his song lyrics, as many Americans sadly suffer through similar situations. As reported in a previous article by Liberty Nation, sexually or physically abused children account for approximately 80% of drug offenders. Moreover, according to the scientific journal World Psychiatry, roughly 20% of girls and 8% of boys are victims of sexual abuse. However, many researchers argue that the percentage of abused males is likely much higher. It is likely that many are too embarrassed to disclose the trauma to their families and friends, as was the case with Chester Bennington.
Undoubtedly, suicide and depression are significant issues currently facing the U.S. As reported by the American Foundation for Suicide and Prevention, about 44,193 Americans take their lives each year, costing the U.S. an estimated fifty-one billion dollars annually.
Hopefully, the deaths of celebrities Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell by suicide will inspire constructive conversations on how to identify and treat those with depression and suicidal thoughts effectively. According to the Mayo Clinic, one cannot simply “snap out of” depression. The illness typically requires years of treatment to overcome, as it often stems from irregularities in brain chemicals that result from past traumas. The death of Bennington may also spur conversation on child sexual abuse. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 747,408 people in the U.S. are registered sex offenders, and the reconviction rate for child molesters is about 20%. The Institute also notes that 30% of sexually abused children go on to carry out sex crimes against children later in life. With some studies suggesting that pedophiles also have abnormalities in brain regions associated with sexual orientation and impulse control, prevention measures may one day be established for treatment of pedophilia, as reported by researchers out of Germany.
Bennington leaves behind a grieving wife and six children, according to TMZ. Linkin Park immediately canceled their tour with pop-punk group Blink 182 following the death of their lead singer and released a statement on their website regarding his death.