Talinda Bennington, widow of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington who died of suicide in July of last year, has been unfairly attacked online since her husband’s passing. Many fans of the alt-rock band have blamed her for his death, saying that she should have done more to save Chester. While it is true that many people who die of suicide show warning signs before they act, not all of them do, and pointing a finger at one person or life event as the “cause” of another person’s suicide ignores the complex nature of what is truly a public health issue. Talinda recently illuminated all of these things and more by discussing her personal experience losing Chester, and how she’s dealt with the aftermath.
Last Wednesday, Talinda spoke on a panel organized by Canada Event Safety, where she spoke openly about Chester’s struggle with mental health—a struggle she shared, but in very different ways:
“He struggled with addiction and depression: two things that I have never struggled with, although I do have my own demons, my own hardships growing up, we just handled them in very different ways. So I came from a point of complete, for lack of a better term, ignorance to the situation.”
She also shared that his death came as a “complete surprise” and how she “naively” thought that the suicide of another close friend, Audioslave singer Chris Cornell, would be enough to keep Chester from attempting the same. She describes how happy Chester was during their last family vacation:
“My husband was full of life. He had to go back home early to work; he was very excited to be promoting the new album and doing stuff. He was happy. He gave me a kiss goodbye, gave the kids a kiss goodbye, and I never saw him again.”
And she spoke about what she knows about Chester’s death—how he had been sober for six months leading up to the his passing but drank the night before he died. Despite what anonymous commenters online have cruelly said about her, she doesn’t blame herself, her family, Chester’s friends, or even the alcohol that he drank, but the “lifetime of unhealthy neural pathways” created by his struggles with depression and addiction. The takeaway, she says, is to remember how important caring for yourself is, how we should all work to destigmatize mental illness:
“He had a lot of shame when, in the past, he relapsed, shame that he had just begun to share with me in the couple of months before he died, shame that I didn’t even know a person could have. So when he passed, and I learned that there were two empty beer bottles in the room, I knew he had relapsed, but I also knew that he wasn’t so intoxicated, out-of-his-mind, like I would have thought. I knew instantly that that drink triggered that shame, triggered a lifetime of unhealthy neural pathways, and this is what I want to get through to as many as I can: It is so important that we take care of our mental health.”
Watch the whole panel below.