The lead singer for the popular nu metal band Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, has been found dead in his home. The Los Angeles County coroner confirmed that Bennington’s body was found before 9:00 am at his Palos Verdes Estates home just outside of Los Angeles. Authorities say that Bennington had hanged himself in an apparent suicide.
Chester Bennington had lead a troubled life, starting with his childhood. His parents had divorced when he was 11, and he went to live with his dad. During an interview Bennington also revealed that he had been the victim of sometimes violent sexual abuse by an older boy. The abuse began when he was 7 and continued until Chester was 13 when he had summoned up enough courage to tell his father about it. Bennington declined to pursue charges when he found out that his abuser was also a victim. Chester would struggle throughout his life with the pain of drug and alcohol addiction brought on by his childhood experiences.
Bennington began his music career when he was still in high school fronting for a Phoenix-area band named Gray Daze. The band had recorded several albums between 1993 and 1997. They never did hit the big time, and Bennington nearly quit the music industry altogether. In 1999 Bennington auditioned for a band named Xero, and managed to land a job replacing their lead singer. The band renamed themselves Linkin Park in an homage to Santa Monica’s Lincoln Park.
Linkin Park struggled to make an impact on the music industry until their debut album, Hybrid Theory, was released in 2001. Hybrid Theory became the best selling album that year, and was certified platinum by the RIAA. The songs on the album reflected the insanity and pain of his tragic childhood. Bennington once spoke in an interview about how the lyrics for one of the songs-“Crawling”-echoed the tumultuous emotions stirred up by his childhood. Chester also emphasized the fact that, while the songs spoke to a tragic upbringing, they also had a sense of personal responsibility. His songs were more about the fact that he was the reason he felt that way rather than blaming anyone for his troubles.
Since the success of Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park and Chester had gone on to achieve the success and fame that so many musicians never see. Bennington himself has collaborated many times over the years with various artists such as Jay Z and Eminem. Bennington had even fronted for the band Stone Temple Pilots from 2014 to 2016. He became close friends with Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell, and the rocker’s recent suicide had hit him hard. Bennington sang “Hallelujah” during Cornell’s funeral. His body was discovered on what would have been Cornell’s birthday.
Chester Bennington leaves behind six children between two marriages. He was 41 years old.
On a personal note, I cannot begin to imagine what Bennington’s family is going through, especially his kids. Losing someone is always hard, but in Bennington’s case it’s equally tragic. Not because he was so young necessarily, but because Bennington made the ultimately selfish choice to end his own life. Death always hits us hard, but when a loved one commits suicide it hurts even more. Family members are often left to wonder if there was anything that they could have done to help. Often times they’re left with a profound sense of guilt. “Why didn’t we see this coming” they often ask themselves. The sad truth is that, ultimately, many of those who commit suicide do so because they have lost a long, brutal battle with the worst enemy possible-their own minds.
Chester Bennington fought his own battle for much of his life. Ultimately he reached the point where he could fight no more, and decided to end it. We can only hope his family and friends are able to pull together during this terrible time.