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Off Topic: Chester Bennington, suicide, mental health.

It’s been around three weeks since Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin’ Park, took his own life and became the latest celebrity to fall victim to depression and succumb to suicidal thoughts. Like many others I was shocked when I read the news that morning. I woke up and my newsfeed was full with RIP Chester posts. I think I felt similar to most people my age who, more or less, grew up with Linkin’ Park. I didn’t write anything back then as I didn’t feel like another article that highlights how much Linkin’ Park influenced my youth would add something to the conversation. Lots of talented writers wrote about how Chester was the voice of the voiceless. A voice of teenagers, young adults, in despair. Someone who screamed it all out, when we couldn’t. Someone who stood up and told everybody how we felt. Someone who, as morbid as it may sound now, made us feel alive. And while everything seemed to be too heavy for him, he might have saved lots of us from depression and god knows which courses of action. All that has been said a thousand of times though and I completely agree with it. Yet, here I am, three weeks later, writing this post.

It’s been three weeks and I’m still thinking about it. Thinking about what drove Chester into taking his own life. Thinking about how ‘strange’ it is to watch a youtube video of his dated two weeks prior to his suicide where he rocked the crowd at a festival in Germany. I’m also thinking about the first time I got in touch with depression. Or how depression touched my life. When sitting down to write this post, I thought I would see some parallels when a former German national goalie, Robert Enke, killed himself. In 2009 the then number one contender for the spot of German national football goalie walked onto train tracks, stood in front of an express train, and took his own life. I worked in a marketing agency back then and when the news broke I was kind of devastated but my colleagues were quick to wash away those news by stating ‘one has to be strong these days’ and ‘suicide is never an option’. That’s what I thought too, for quite a long time. It should never be an option.

Now, when thinking more about it however, some demons of the past are coming back. A long time ago, when I was still living in my small, idyllic, German hometown I was close friends with a girl who dated a police officer. He had a family (not here to judge her on that now) and what seemed to be a ‘good’ and settled life. Family, wife, daughters, lover (again, not judging in this regard). One evening he however took his car, drove into the forrest, and shot himself with his police gun. The reason here, also depression.

It freaks me out to see that depression not only comes for ‘lonely’ people in a physical sense, but that it comes for everybody and even people with ‘normal’ lives or people that have ‘everything’ aren’t save from the demon that is depression. Robert Enke and said police officer even have been in treatment and received medical care but that couldn’t prevent them from feeling that it was all too much and that in the end all of it didn’t seem to matter. They all ended up choosing the ‘only’ way out. Taking their own lives.

When looking at Chester’s songs in retrospective many people say ‘it’s so obvious that he was in pain’. And sure, it is. However we all thought as he was able to put it all out there, put it into words, he would have found a way to let it all out and let go of it. Apparently we were wrong.

Robert Enke, the goalkeeper, was set to become the number one goalkeeper for one of the best national teams in the world. He was the next superstar and nobody would have thought he wouldn’t be happy about that. Apparently everybody was wrong.

The police officer had a great life, a nice family, great work + medical support that stated he was doing better. His family, doctors, my friend, all thought he was doing well and enjoying life. Apparently all of them were wrong.

Obviously I am not a doctor but all such incidents just show that depression is nothing to be taken lightly and that we need to be more aware of mental health issues. Writing this from a country were mental health is still not taken serious (just be strong!) is rather scary. Scary when you think about how many people might end up suffering because there’s nobody out there that understands them, that helps them (one of my students actually wrote about it here from her personal point of view), that listens. Here in Thailand mental health is still something that’s not been talked about a lot. Lately there have been a few more meetups and discussions, but there haven’t been any actual changes seen within society, the government, or medical care.

I talked about this whole issue with some of my former colleagues here in Thailand and one senior colleague told me: “If you are depressed, you have to be ‘strong’. Only if you are strong, you will feel better.” – I wonder if a Rockstar, National Team Football Player, and Police Officer would count as ‘strong’ people in his opinion?

#RIPChester

#MentalHealthIssuesAreReal!

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at My-Thai.org
Sascha is the publisher of my-thai.org and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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  • Jerapa Sullivan

    From personal experience of knowing someone with depression, you made a very good point stating that the happy person we see everyday might not really be happy inside. I feel like one can only do so much to help the person with mental health issues whether it’s a colleague, friend, or family member. The best way to escape the continuous cycle of dangerous depressive thoughts inside one’s head, in my opinion, is obviously seeing a psychiatrist. BUT, as you also stated, mental health still isn’t taken seriously here in Thailand, which is unfortunate for the ones that need/want help but are afraid of what others would think of them.

  • Thanks for commenting on such a rather serious article. I’m actually working on a more detailed article with a few psychiatrists right now and it’s really astonishing to hear how little people in Thailand know / want to know about mental health. Let’s hope we can raise some awareness here and help people with depression to find the help and strength they need.

  • Tanutcha Roongroj

    I just have to admit that this topic is quite sensitive not just for me but everybody in the society. The depression or The Major Depressive Disorder infiltrated many people around me without preparing before. And why is it dangerous? from my perspective, one who had this disorder hardly speak about it. I acknowledged that they were in pain by reading their status on Facebook or when they had something wrong and started to slipped out of their own mouth.

    Those who have experienced the depression told that it was hard to pass because in public they look normal, happy, talkative, whilst, whenever they are alone – that empty feeling comes.

    To help them was also tough. there are many words that we have to prevent, for instance, ‘i already told you.’ or ‘just get over it.’ actually they wanted to and they tried to do but they just cannot. That is why we have to take care, focus, and stay beside, listen to what they want to tell.

  • Thanks for your comment. Agree it’s difficult to help. Especially in a society where talking about it is still not ‘normal’. Here’s to hoping that raising awareness will help to make people understand more about this issue.

  • Chanidapa Smt

    Mental illness in Thailand doesn’t seem like and issue for most people, mostly within the Buddhist community since when someone suffers from depression, people will say be strong and other words of encouragement. Also, when a person commits suicide from depression, the community will say that it is a sin and that he/she is a bad person and will go to hell. However, I don’t blame them, since mental illness is hard to understand in an undeveloped country. As you said, people in Thailand sees depression as a non-serious issue. I feel that the people of Thailand should be more informed on how depression affects the lives of people so they can also lookout for person suffering from depression before it is too late.

  • Chanidapa Smt

    Mental illness in Thailand doesn’t seem like an issue for most people, mostly within the Buddhist community since when someone suffers from depression, people will say be strong and other words of encouragement. Also, when a person commits suicide from depression, the community will say that it is a sin and that he/she is a bad person and will go to hell. However, I don’t blame them, since mental illness is hard to understand in an undeveloped country. As you said, people in Thailand sees depression as a non-serious issue. I feel that the people of Thailand should be more informed on how depression affects the lives of people so they can also lookout for person suffering from depression before it is too late.

  • Fully agree with your point of view, that’s why we here also work with a few professionals on an upcoming awareness campaign for mental health issues.

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  • Vincent Wu

    Well first of all, I’m not a fan of Linkin Park. However, I have heard some of his songs and how influencial he was before. I have also seen his inspirational interviews. Acknowledging that he passed away was not on my expectation at all. In my opinion, a middle man like him should not die on something like depression. Therefore, this issue will raise an awareness about mental illness. This problem can take a man life. In addition, depression is not only “teenager” problem, but it is a “problem” in our society. Moreover, we must be more concerned about mental issue and people who face this dilemma.