Mental Illness

When Mental Illness Hits Musicians

On 20 July, 2017 at approximately 9:08 a.m. Chester Bennington, frontman of acclaimed rock group Linkin Park, committed suicide. On what was to be the birthday of his friend Chris Cornell, who too took his own life back in May 2017, Chester lost his battle against his demons and hanged himself in his Palos Verdes home. There is a lot of speculation surrounding the ‘why’s’ of this tragic loss of a talented life but all factors considered, one of the most talented musicians of our time is dead because the burden of anxiety and depression simply became too heavy to bear.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the USA affecting an estimated 18% (40 million) of adults older than 18. Mental illness is by no means picky and has the debilitating ability to affect the lives of individuals regardless of their color, creed, or indeed their celebrity status.

Musicians fighting mental health issues

Living in the spotlight under constant scrutiny of the world places unnecessary pressure on individuals already experiencing tremendous strain. The connection between creativity and mental illness seems to become more profound by the day as actors, singers, artists and writers lose their way. Chester Bennington was not the first musician whose mental health took strain and he will not be the last either.

Other musicians who battled mental illness are:

  • Brian Wilson – The Beach Boys:  Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Type

  • Syd Barrett – Pink Floyd: Speculated Schizophrenia

  • Kurt Cobain – Nirvana: Bipolar Disorder

  • Chris Cornell – Audioslave: Substance abuse & depression

  • Demi Lovato: Anorexia, bulimia & bipolar disorder

  • Barbra Streisand: Social Anxiety disorder

  • Eric Clapton: Alcoholism with suicidal tendencies

It is not always easy to comprehend how celebrities that are adored by millions, have beautiful families and countless riches, can be affected by loneliness and depression. There is an old saying that reads ‘It’s lonely at the top’ and never before has it rung more true. Mental health conditions are claiming victims at an astonishing rate with suicide becoming more and more prevalent in celebrity circles.

The stigma surrounding mental illness is the greatest hindrance with regards to sufferers seeking professional assistance. As long as society frowns upon mental health issues, those suffering from it will continue to do so alone and in silence, often with devastating results. Many of the songs penned by Bennington read like a suicide note. There is no certainty that he would still been alive today if he received the necessary treatment but he at least would have been giving more of a fighting chance.

by Jane Sandwood

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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