By Kevin Sheehan, Special Columnist
Normally the death of celebrities does not really affect me in my everyday life, mainly because any association or relationship is purely superficial through whatever entertainment they provide. However, upon hearing yesterday that Chester Bennington (lead singer from Linkin Park) had passed away, I was a little more than frustrated.
Hybrid Theory was the first alternative rock CD I bought when I was in middle school. As a teen filled with angst and lived quietly, I lived vicariously through music in which the singer is screaming, which Chester did for me. (I still listen to music like that, and for the same reason.)
Let me tell you why I am frustrated though. It is not because I feel any connection with Chester, it is because after the announcement of demise, the always “the artist struggled with alcohol and drugs” always seems to follow.
How many people have we lost to drug addiction? Prince died a little over a year ago due to over-medicating. Chris Cornell and now Chester Bennington killed themselves after a long struggle. Scott Weiland overdosed as well. Even Marilyn Monroe’s death was a fatal battle with barbiturates. Ernest Hemingway shot himself after struggling with depression and alcoholism.
Heath Ledger (most well known as The Joker in The Dark Knight) overdosed on medication. Kurt Cobaine’s suicide note (if you believe Courtney Love didn’t shoot him) had traces of heroin and medications. Anna Nicole Smith overdosed. Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning. Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Chris Kelly, Corey Monteith, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and the list goes on and on and on.
So what frustrates me is not that celebrities who I enjoy are killing themselves, but the fact that drugs and alcohol are still glamorized in our media and entertainment industries. Am I the only one who sees it? Perhaps maybe it is my background that makes it blaringly obvious. For instance, the amount of drugs that Chris Cornell had in his system when he committed suicide was a concoction that isn’t necessarily uncommon (personal experience).
So what is frustrating to me is that while everyone is mourning the loss of celebrities, nobody is warning the dangers of drug usage. The problem is, people overdose every day. Very few addicts make it out alive, it seems. So while this national phenomena of addiction takes the lives of common man, it goes unnoticed by the masses, only being given attention when it hits close to home. So you would figure that when someone famous dies of it, it would be given attention, right? Think of the disease ALS. It is known as Lou Gehrig ’s disease. Why? Because he was a notable person that died from it. So why are all these celebrities mentioned above and more dying from drug related causes and nothing is being done other than the lamentation of “I wish he would’ve gotten help”?
I am sad, not just for the loss of one of my favorite singers, but I am sad because this country refuses to step up and take a stand against drug addiction. Our media and entertainment glamorizes it, makes it enticing to new users. New users become addicts, and addicts destroy their lives with their new-found passion, leading to a life of regret, heart-ache, or even death.
If we cannot take the plain evidence before our eyes and use it to make a difference, this cycle will not stop. Maybe I am overly-passionate about the matter, maybe it hits too close to home for me, or maybe I am just willing to speak up because I am tired of this. But unless change is elicited from the masses, in the words of Chester Bennington, “In the end, it doesn’t even matter.”
Kevin Sheehan has known all the words to Hybrid Theory and Meteora for over 15 years.