An Attempt to Understand

We've had so much to be happy about this year, and yet so much to make us sad. While we're grateful for all the amazing things this year has brought, we also need to recognize the losses. Just yesterday as we were pondering the death of Chris Cornell on what would have been his 53rd birthday, we saw the shocking and tragic news of Chester Bennington's suicide.

These two men had families, wives, children who loved them. They were incredibly talented, had risen to a level of success that many will not know, and they were loved by their fans and yet, the world that they lived in weighed on them to the point they felt they had to take their own lives.  As a fellow musician, and someone who has dreamed of having what they had since I was a small child, I'm trying to understand.

I don't have answers, and I know there are strong opinions on this subject. Many people think that suicide is a selfish act and, while from a certain perspective I can't argue with that I believe that, as with anything there are endless perspectives.  Of course we are most likely to empathize with those who are left behind and have to deal with the aftermath - they're living, breathing, grief-stricken humans, oftentimes far to young to have to deal with such tragedy.  But the harsh judgements towards these 'selfish' people who have somehow felt that the world would be better off without them, I feel also do the people still suffering from mental illness a disservice.  How do you think a judgement like this makes them feel?

I can add some insight to this, having suffered from anxiety and depression (thankfully at a somewhat manageable level) for most of my life. It makes us feel as though the whole world can't see us, can't fathom how we see it and can't be bothered to even try to understand. If it sounds like I'm placing blame, I'm not. There is nothing more difficult than trying to see the world from someone else's perspective, and to place blame would be unproductive. What I am trying to say is that, without each of us trying a little harder to understand each other, we will continue to lose people.

Let's face it, maybe we will lose people anyway, but I for one would like to think that if my friend or loved one were struggling with something so severe that they were thinking of taking their own life, they could come talk to me about it. If they can't talk to me, hopefully they are strong enough to seek therapy, or to call a hotline. There is no shame in mental illness - it's exactly that, an illness, and seeking help is not weak, it's one of the best kinds of strength a person can display.

Ultimately, the decision to act on these feelings is up to the individual suffering, but there is something very important that each of us can do every day in an attempt to make the world more bearable for them, and really for everyone. Look at the person next to you, recognize that you have no idea what they are going through today, what they went through yesterday, or throughout their life. Try to understand. Understand that everyone struggles, no matter what you might perceive about how perfect their life might be. If you're thinking of saying something hurtful, ask yourself whether that's really necessary, and try to find something kind to say or do.

Of course no one is perfect. We all have our good days and bad, but I would like to think that most people in the world want to do good. Not everyone will be able to understand everyone else, but if you can't understand, please just try to empathize.

Much Love,

-Will

Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255

5 comments

  • Larry Shulman

    Larry Shulman New Hampshire

    Well said. Your comments reflect the same sensitivity that marks your music.

    Well said. Your comments reflect the same sensitivity that marks your music.

  • Denise

    Denise UK

    It must be very difficult to be in the spot light so much and often such gifted people walk a little with the darker side. As you say we none of us know how another is truly feeling but hope that those closest to us could come and talk if they had reached such a difficult place in their life. Sadly however a truly depressive person would not always have the insight to be able to do this. It's part of the condition. This is why awareness of mental health issues is so important as it may be that those around us who need to be able to spot the symptoms and help that person engage the help they need. Depressive illness is a chemical imbalance of the neurotransmitters that pass the messages of how we feel around. In truth I am not sure that we know and understand enough about the conditions and certainly the treatments are still relatively crude. I I hope that medical research can make advances in this area and that resources can be found to give those who need it the support they deserve.

    It must be very difficult to be in the spot light so much and often such gifted people walk a little with the darker side. As you say we none of us know how another is truly feeling but hope that those closest to us could come and talk if they had reached such a difficult place in their life. Sadly however a truly depressive person would not always have the insight to be able to do this. It's part of the condition. This is why awareness of mental health issues is so important as it may be that those around us who need to be able to spot the symptoms and help that person engage the help they need. Depressive illness is a chemical imbalance of the neurotransmitters that pass the messages of how we feel around. In truth I am not sure that we know and understand enough about the conditions and certainly the treatments are still relatively crude. I I hope that medical research can make advances in this area and that resources can be found to give those who need it the support they deserve.

  • Shelly Ford

    Shelly Ford

    I think it's very important to realize that depression can also be situational. I know because this is something I'm dealing with. It's too much to get into, but sometimes we are stuck in a situation that we're trying hard to improve, but things aren't getting better and therefore we cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel. Not everyone has a supportive family and/or friends, and that can lead to further feelings of isolation not to mention a feeling of worthlessness. Under these circumstances, it's not a chemical imbalance, but a by product of that individual's living environment. I really believe that people TRY to reach out in some way before committing the act of taking their own life.....but many times those signs are ignored, overlooked, or not taken seriously. We can ALL start with our own circle; be aware and engaged with our loved ones. The power of a phone call or visit to someone struggling in this way may literally be a lifeline. Underneath it all, we all just want to feel loved and to know that we matter. If we don't feel that, all of the other stuff doesn't cut it.

    I think it's very important to realize that depression can also be situational. I know because this is something I'm dealing with. It's too much to get into, but sometimes we are stuck in a situation that we're trying hard to improve, but things aren't getting better and therefore we cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel. Not everyone has a supportive family and/or friends, and that can lead to further feelings of isolation not to mention a feeling of worthlessness. Under these circumstances, it's not a chemical imbalance, but a by product of that individual's living environment. I really believe that people TRY to reach out in some way before committing the act of taking their own life.....but many times those signs are ignored, overlooked, or not taken seriously. We can ALL start with our own circle; be aware and engaged with our loved ones. The power of a phone call or visit to someone struggling in this way may literally be a lifeline. Underneath it all, we all just want to feel loved and to know that we matter. If we don't feel that, all of the other stuff doesn't cut it.

  • Kim

    Kim Okc

    Beautifully said. Thank you, Will. ✨

    Beautifully said. Thank you, Will. ✨

  • Kimbr

    Kimbr Pennsylvania

    Will, So true! All artists share their heart and souls with the masses. They Have the courage to put themselves out there, in hopes of connecting with at least one person and making a difference. Chester shared his gift, I am grateful, and will miss him! Thank you for sharing your gift Will!

    Will,

    So true! All artists share their heart and souls with the masses. They Have the courage to put themselves out there, in hopes of connecting with at least one person and making a difference. Chester shared his gift, I am grateful, and will miss him!

    Thank you for sharing your gift Will!

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