THE IMPACT OF A CELEBRITY SUICIDE ON SUICIDAL IDEATION
Akmal Adani Hamdan
Faculty of Science (FS)
University Putra Malaysia
43400 UPM Serdang,
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.
This case study is discussing about the suicide of the former lead singer of the famous nu-metal and rock band Linkin Park, Chester Bennington. He was found dead by hanging himself at his private house in Palos Verdes Estates, California, United States on July 20, 2017. The idea of this study is how tragic this case can bring a hit to a suicidal ideation to the community especially their die-hard fans. In fact, there is – an actual incident where a fan hanged themselves hours after Chester’s death. For instance, Lee Randall, 36, was found dead by his wife at their home near Stockport. Hours earlier he made a distressed call to his father questioning Linkin Park’s suicide. Therefore, this is no ordinary case to overlook by.
According to Oxford Dictionary, suicide is the action of killing oneself intentionally. There are various factors leading to suicide which include mental illness such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and such. Generally, Linkin Park’s song lyrics are all about him expressing his feelings and past. From his recent album – One More Light, the song title ‘Heavy’ is telling what his chaotic mind thinks. Here is an example of the lyrics – “I’m holding on. Why is everything so heavy? I keep dragging around what’s bringing me down”. This profusely indicates that he carried such burden of negative thoughts and becoming paranoid from it.
What leads to Chester’s suicide was the tragic life its own. Chester was suffering from sexual abuse since he was seven years old from his older male friend. What’s worse, he shut his mouth from telling anyone or asking for a help as it might sound like he’s lying or he’s gay, and the abuse continued until he was 13 years old. At the age of 11, his parents divorced and these situations made him felt the urge to kill someone and run away. To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs. However, he started abusing alcohol, marijuana, opium, cocaine, meth and LSD. He also was physically bullied in high school for looking so skinny and different from others. After moving in with his mother at the age of 17, she discovered his drug activity and banned him from leaving the house. Eventually, he was able to overcome his drug addiction.
In the album Dead in Sunrise that he wrote, in an interview he said, his life was falling apart while writing the album including diving very hard into alcohol and drugs. He revealed about his dark past and how they filled with many of his lyrics. While promoting his One More Light new album, Bennington addresses his depression, “Life got really weird and really hard all at once that was really hard for me to get out of”. He is also a very close friend with the late Audio Slave front man, Chris Cornell. Two months before Chester’s death, Cornell also committed suicide by hanging. Bennington took the last heart after Cornell’s death. Bennington posted in a social media that said “I am still weeping in sadness” with a letter of he’s thought and memories with Chris Cornell- “I can’t imagine a life without you”. Coincidentally, the day of Bennington’s suicide was also to be Cornell’s birthday.
Depression is a serious mental illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. There are several factors play a role in depression-Biochemistry: Differences in certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to symptoms of depression, Genetics: Depression can run in families. For example, if one identical twin has depression, the other has a 70 percent chance of having the illness sometime in life, Personality: People with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be more likely to experience depression and Environmental factors: Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty may make some people more vulnerable to depression. Thus, method and techniques that will be used to study this matter is discussed in this section
This open-based study uses data collection and data analysis design. The result provided in this paper are from sources obtained by other research and data. The sample chosen are among the US citizen which will have the highest impact from the death of Chester Bennington following his fans over the world. Random cases of celebrity suicide are included to determine how high the statistical value is over the years of suicidal ideation from celebrities’ death.
To identify the articles on suicide by famous figures from the various pool of general suicide articles, a procedure used, first to partition the deaths of well-known figure by age, gender, marital status, influential field, background studies. A consistent pattern from the articles will be included in this study to further analyzed and generate a report.
Firstly, well-known celebrities all over the world will be included to get an in-depth understanding of the impact from the suicide cases in. In order to test whether the celebrity’s suicide changes by their professions and influential field to provide more imitative effects.
Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Brian Jones died at an identical age to Kurt Cobain, 27. The recent suicide of Linkin Park singer, Chester Bennington at 41 increasingly reflects a societal trend towards higher suicide rates among middle-aged men. If anything, Bennington’s death, on the birthday of his friend, Chris Cornell who took his own life in in May, reflects a more tragic trend. Cases also show that those who are married and have families many were effected from Bennington’s suicide as he is a father and a husband. Robin Williams have always participated in charity work which includes going to homeless and children’s wards and this shows that profession contributes to depression as he was left raised by the maid employed by his family since his mother was busy working. Bennington who is well known with his dark past and now, suicide has really impacted those with the similar past – children abuse, drug addiction to commit suicide.
From a few articles on the front man of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, it has been reported common to see middle-ager affected by the sudden horrific news. A 2016 report by the National Center for Health Statistics found that the rate of suicides had reached their highest level in 30 years. While Bennington is a few years shy of being categorized as middle-aged in this data — that’s officially between 46 and 64 years old — it should be noted that the largest increases in suicide rates were seen among both middle-aged men and women. In possibly one of his last interviews with Will Lavin, Bennington spoke candidly about his issues with depression, which were likely brought on by awful child abuse he endured as a child.
“I came to a point in my life where I was like, ‘I can either just give up and fucking die or I can fucking fight for what I want.’ And I chose to fight for what I wanted. I wanted to have good relationships. I wanted to love the people in my life. I wanted to enjoy my job. I wanted to enjoy being a dad and having friends and just getting up in the morning. Because that was a struggle for me.” (Keohan, 2017)
There are moments of tribute; the fan singalong to Bennington’s part on Linkin Park’s In the End is always a bittersweet part of the set, for example, but one Shinoda has found himself looking forward to. Striking a balance between reflective and celebratory is important to him. “I wouldn’t want to go to a concert that was a downer, so I don’t want to play a concert that’s a downer.” (Andrews, 2018)
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 1. Monthly number of suicides in the United States from January 2010 to December 2015. Reprinted from xxx, by D. S. Fink, 2018, Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191405.g002 . Copyright 2018 by PLOS One. Reprinted with permission
Dink et. al. discussed that in his research, refer to figure 1, the monthly suicide counts draws a constant seasonal pattern over the year, following the dark grey to the darkest grey as the year 2010 to 2015 of suicide cases and red line as the year 2014, where Robin Williams suicide.
Could suicides follow star’s death? Why does the world only take note notice of mental illness following the suicide of a celebrity? Ernest Hemingway shot himself in 1961. Kurt Cobain shot himself in 1994. Alexander McQueen took a cocktail of drugs and hanged himself in 2010. Robin Williams hanged himself in 2014. Chris Cornell hanged himself May 2017. And now Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. The World Health Organization estimates there were 788 000 suicide deaths worldwide in 2015. That’s a rate of 10.7 per 100 000 people. Seven hundred and eighty-eight thousand people chose to end their lives in one year. Sadly, though, it seems like it takes the death of a celebrity such as Linkin Park’s lead singer Chester Bennington for the world to take notice of mental health.
Our mind is a dangerous place. That’s where thinking skill plays it part. Thinking skill is an intellectual (mental) skills as an outcome of training or knowledge that enables the search of a certain meaning, exploration of various ideas or creations, decision-making and solving problems in a reasonable manner. Chaffee (1988) said that “Thinking is a mental activity with a systematic objective which involves an individual in the evaluation of his/her own thinking and others”. Why thinking skill is so important, is because it can helps us make right decisions and face today’s challenges except for enhance the quality of one’s thinking.
There are many component in thinking skills but what to be highlighted here are metacognitive domain and affective domain. Metacognitive domain has 3 factors to be noted which is – Planning, conceptualization and assessment. Planning is stating the aim, choosing and strategizing operation, identifying hindrances. Conceptualization is the ability to be constantly aware of the aim of any task undertaken, identifying constraints and flaws and able to overcome them. Assessment is the ability to assess achievement of an aim, suitability of a procedure used, effectiveness of a plan and its implementation. It is true that one of the way to treat depression is to at least not to bottled up your feelings. Meet the psychiatrist or at least write out what you feel unhappy about. It helps to aware of your sadness.
Secondly, affective domain includes emotional intelligence (EQ) – Self-realization; the ability to realize a feeling or emotion, manage emotions; the ability to manage emotions, feeling and attitude in a certain action, empathy; the sensitivity towards feeling and view of others, communication; the ability to communicate and be aware of feelings that need to be shared, cooperation; the ability to put oneself as a leader of follower, and lastly managing conflicts; the ability to use emotions to solve a problem. Emotional intelligence is built by reducing stress, remaining focused and staying connected to yourself and others. The first two skills are essential for controlling and managing overwhelming stress and the last three skills greatly improved communication. Also include –The ability to quickly reduce stress in the moment in a variety of settings, the ability to recognize your emotions and keep them from overwhelming you, the ability to connect emotionally with others by using nonverbal communication, the ability to use humor and play to stay connected in challenging situations, the ability to resolve conflicts positively and with confidence and to be able to control your emotion is to not to drown in your own feelings when depressed.
Depression can affect anybody. As the music industry still remains numb from the self-imposed death of Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington, it’s natural to examine the lead up to the tragedy in hopes of finding a motive in the ambiguity. Finding clear cut answers when dealing with mental health is a fruitless endeavor, but scrutinizing Bennington’s public messages prior to his death may help us make more sense of just how dire the 41 year old’s situation was before his death.
First and foremost, I wish to thanks a galaxy stars to Dr. Mohd Mustafa Awang Kechik for teaching the subject Thinking Skills with all his heart. Also to my always-debating-about-Bennington’s-death siblings that also contribute their ideas.
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