With news of another suicide, more exhaustion

Linkin Park frontman, Chester Bennington

CW: suicide, depression, trauma, PTSD

I'm tired of suicide.

When I hear about another self-committed death it's not really sadness that I feel anymore. Well, I suppose that's not true. Sadness is definitely there. But the overwhelming feeling is exhaustion.

I didn’t know Chester Bennington. I know a few people who worked with him over the years, and I always got the impression that he was a kind person. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a super-fan of Linkin Park, although I did enjoy some of their music. I’m not trying to insert myself into a story that, really, doesn’t involve me. I do know, though, what his family and friends will have to deal with over the course of the next few days, weeks, and years.

Suicide and I go back quite a ways. I’ve lost countless acquaintances to it, have had my own struggles with mental illness, and dealt with numerous attempts by close ones. During the summer between my 1st and 2nd years at university I witnessed a suicide on a subway track late at night, and spent the next few years wading through the resulting PTSD from seeing a man die.

A few years later I lost my cousin Phillip to suicide; the year after, his twin brother, James, took his own life. A few years after that, their mother, Cheryl (my aunt by marriage) couldn’t bear being on a planet without her two dear sons, and we lost her, too. One after another, the shock, and then immediately, the exhaustion.

I find it to be so exhausting because I see no resolution to the hurt of it. I’ve experienced death before, but it’s different when the end for someone you love is so desperate. When I lost my Nanny in 2011 to old age I was devastated, but also able to cope and heal because I knew she had had a long, full life and her departure from this world was met with celebration that we had been able to spend so many years in her presence. 

Death by suicide is different. There’s no celebration. No fixing it. No logic. Just a gaping hole, and wishing that things could have been different.

Suicide is also such concrete proof that someone you cared about was in such deep pain. So many of us are “fixers,” and our inability to provide a way out of that hurt for them feels like a failure.

Of course, depression is a tricky son-of-a-bitch, and it’s not up to anyone to try and “cure” their loved ones. Us survivors know that, but there are still those parts of ourselves that feel like we let them down. 

I remember after I witnessed the subway suicide that I struggled so long with wishing I had done more. The man involved had walked past me on the platform and I could sense his sadness, it was that palpable. I naively believed myself important enough to be able to change his mind. How? I didn’t know. And I felt a searching, “what could I have said, what could I have done?” Part of me wanted to find an answer to those questions, part of me knew there was not one.

So with news of yet another suicide of an artist I respected, only months after we lost Chris Cornell, I feel the exhaustion again. I feel what seems to be a constant struggle in a world where so many of us battle mental illness. I feel the pointlessness of losses like this, that just leave massive absences in their wake.

But I am grateful, too. For every person who has succumbed to their mental illness, there are the survivors who are beacons of light to many. There are those of us who have contemplated just making it all go away, but through sheer daily miracles, survived. (I should add: I truly don't believe that those who have contemplated suicide are somehow stronger than those who have taken their lives. Maybe we just got luckier, or had better support systems? I don't know.)

The only thing I know how to do that makes sense when faced with this type of death is to be grateful for life, to share about how I got through my hard times, and be a support to those who are struggling. Those are the only concrete actions that I feel can be found in this. 

The message that some of us made it through to the other side and found it was worth it is an important one. The message that suffering isn't always permanent, that things can improve, that you can do a complete 180 and your old life can look barely recognizable, these are things I will share over and over.

If you're struggling, I hope you hear this.
If you've faced loss, you're not alone.
If you've survived, I am grateful.

These are my feeble attempts to combat the exhaustion. I hope they help.


  1. Hey, Rebecca! This post. So refreshingly honest! Thank you for not placating us with fake, unsatisfying answers. It sounds like you are searching...and sometimes you come up dry. I'm with you in that! Just appreciate you writing about this so none of us feel quite as alone in the struggles, questions. Keep up the courage!

    And thank you so much for including mine in your "fav blogs!" I'm honored.

    ~Anna, www.thawingout.org

    1. Anna! Thank you for taking the time to read this and comment. Much appreciated! I'm so happy that you enjoyed this post, it means a lot to me.

      I'm sure you'll see me around your blog from time to time, so see ya soon!


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