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The death of Linkin Park singer, Chester Bennington, highlights the need for our society to become better educated on mental health.

By Travis Coltrain

Recently, the world learned of the loss of Chester Bennington, frontman for the band Linkin Park. His suicide, just a few months before Linkin Park was to go tour, came as a shock to everyone.

However, as a longtime fan of his, I wasn’t entirely surprised. His lyrics, and even his interviews, point to his struggles with both mental illnesses and addiction.

Following his death, fans everywhere took to social media to mourn their lost idol. But not all fans expressed their sadness in the same way.

Bennington left behind six children and wife, Talinda Ann Bentley. Many complained that Bennington was selfish for leaving them.

Suddenly, the dynamic changed. It wasn’t about remembering all the good Bennington had done; it became bashing him for not being able to live another day.

This isn’t the first time a celebrity’s suicide has caused arguments online. Following the suicide of Robin Williams in 2014, people took to the Internet to share their frustration in regard to him leaving behind three children and a wife.

Not only is this behavior useless, it’s also dangerous. This is victim-blaming at its finest, something those with mental illness seem to experience a lot.

Mental illness is more common than most people expect. According to a study conducted by National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. suffer from some form of mental illness. That’s 43.8 million people, or roughly 14.7 percent of our population.

Also, according to the alliance, an estimated 16 million people suffer from depression each year. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that each year, roughly 1 million people inflict self-harm, with 44,000 people losing their lives to suicide each year.

Both Williams and Bennington had depression, something they were both open about. However, in the end, neither could overcome the condition. A commonality among those who commit suicide is they are almost always shamed.

When people lose their lives to cancer, we don’t say they should have been stronger or blame them. We understand that cancer is a disease that has no true cure, and depression should be looked at the same way.

There is no cure for depression, only medication that can help alleviate some of the stress. Bennington’s death shouldn’t separate us and have us talking about what is selfish and what is not.

Instead, we should use that energy to recognize the signs and see where Bennington struggled and needed help. We should then work on offering that help to those around us who need it.

This is a time for us to come together and learn the real warning signs associated with depression and suicidal tendencies. Indeed, we should view Bennington’s death as a sign to become better informed on suicide, self-harm, and mental health.

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