Today, one year on from his tragic passing, the world honours the memory of Chester Bennington. To millions of fans around the globe he was an icon, an inspiration and a beacon of hope at a time often devoid of that quality. To most he was simply Linkin Park’s vocalist.
Chester was so much more though. Beyond the larger than life songs, the screams and the performances, was a person, just like you. He was loved and adored by his wife of 12 years, Talinda, his mother Susan Eubanks, his sister Tobi Knehr, and six children – Jaime, Isaiah, Draven Sebastian, Tyler Lee, Lily and Lila. For many of us, July 20, 2017 will be forever remembered as the day the rock world lost one of its finest voices. Those much closer to him however, have lost a father, a husband, a brother, and a son.
In this week’s issue of Kerrang! we celebrate the incredible impact that Chester Bennington made on his nearest and dearest, with help from some beautiful tributes from the three women who knew him most intimately.
Chester was “the best father, friend and husband anyone could have,” Talinda tells us.
“He was so special to me because he was my soul mate. We knew each other inside out and could oftentimes communicate without words. He was so special to me because he was a present and loving father to our babies and the most romantic and loving husband a woman could ever dream of… He was my heart and soul.”
In the 12 months that have passed since Chester died by suicide, many people have struggled to come to terms with why, and how such a thing was possible. It’s a stark reminder that mental health issues can affect anyone and no matter how someone in the public eye may appear, no-one truly knows how much pain a person may be enduring under the surface. If one positive can emerge from such a tragic turn of events, it’s that conversations about mental health are being brought out into the open and outdated stigma is rightly being eroded. Since that awful day in July last year, Talinda has become a mental health activist, regularly speaking on panels, “to let others know they are not alone.”
“I believe that the positive effects of this campaign are multifaceted, from opening up dialogue, to sharing resource information with those in need,” she says.
“Most importantly to me is that my kids now know that the passing of their dad has prompted people to receive care for their own mental health and has saved countless lives already. It has helped make sense out of a senseless tragedy.”
To that end, Talinda has since created her own mental health initiative named 320 Changes Direction (a reference to Chester’s birthday), partnering with mental health groups Give An Hour and The Campaign To Change Direction.
Ultimately, it’s about reaching out to help others, inspired also by the huge outpouring of grief, sadness, loss and pain she witnessed from fans on social media in the wake of her husband’s passing.
“I wanted to help each and every one of them,” she says. “It made me realise how many people needed and wanted to talk about their mental health and emotional wellbeing.”
Today, of all days, it’s important to keep these thoughts in mind as we pay our respects to Chester Bennington – the husband, father, son, friend, and hero to millions worldwide.
You can learn more about the 320 Changes Direction campaign at changedirection.org. If you are affected by any of the issues raised here please also consult youngminds.org.uk.