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Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington and America’s suicide epidemic

The news that 41-year-old Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington had apparently killed himself Thursday shocked and saddened fans. TMZ reported that the singer hanged himself at his home in Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County.
Unfortunately, Bennington wouldn’t have been the only person to die by suicide in the United States on Thursday. Every day, an estimated 121 people take their own lives with suicide being the 10th leading cause of death, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The majority of people who kill themselves are men — 7 in 10. Among men, suicide is the 7th leading cause of death , behind heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic respiratory disease, stroke and diabetes.
In addition, a 2016 report by the National Center for Health Statistics found that the rate of suicides had reached their highest level in 30 years . While Bennington is a few years shy of being categorized as middle-aged in this data — that’s officially between 46 and 64 years old — it should be noted that the largest increases in suicide rates were seen among both middle-aged men and women.
Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell performs at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, in San Francisco in 2011. (Ray Chavez/Staff) 
A close friend of Bennington’s who belonged in this age group was Seattle grunge rock icon Chris Cornell, who would have turned 53 on Thursday. The Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman died by hanging in his Detroit hotel room in May. A preliminary coroner’s report ruled the death a suicide but his widow  believes that prescription drugs he was taking  left him so high that he accidentally hung himself.
Bennington and Linkin Park bandmate Brad Delson performed “Hallelujah” at Cornell’s memorial service in late May, and Bennington tweeted a moving tribute to his friend the day after Cornell’s death.
“You have inspired me in ways you could never have known,” Bennington tweeted. “Your talent was pure and unrivaled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped into one. I suppose that’s what we all are.”
Cornell’s widow Vicky Karayiannis Cornell tweeted out a message for Bennington’s wife Talinda Ann Bentley.

Just when I thought my heart couldn’t break any more…..I love you T
— Vicky Cornell (@vickycornell) July 20, 2017

The 2016 NCHS report didn’t identify causes behind what its lead author, Sally Curtin, called “the growing problem of suicide in America,” the Guardian reported. But a 2013 analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted the recent economic downturn and a vulnerability among baby boomers who had “unusually high suicide rates during their adolescent years” as possible contributing factors to the rising suicide rate for middle-aged adults.
Chester Bennington performs “Hallelujah” at a funeral for Chris Cornell in late May. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) 
Both Bennington and Cornell were public about their long struggles with drug and alcohol abuse. Bennington also had previously talked about suicide as the result of childhood trauma and abuse, TMZ said.
While depression and other mood disorders are the no. 1 risk factor for suicide, alcohol and drug abuse are a close second, with research showing that people with substance use disorders are six times more likely to commit suicide than the general population, according to Psychology Today.
Substance abuse facilitates suicide. An estimated 1 in 3 people who take their own lives do so while under the influence of drugs, usually oxycodone or heroin, or alcohol, the Psychology Today story said.
Chris Cornell and his wife Vicky. (AP Photo/Katy Winn, File) 
At the time of his death, Cornell had a number of prescription drugs in his system, including a sedative, barbiturates and Ativan. The presence of the drugs led Cornell’s family to conclude that he had some kind of slip or relapse after many years of sobriety; otherwise he wasn’t suicidal.
“This moment of terrible judgement (sic) seems to have completely impaired and altered his state of mind,” Vicky Cornell said in a statement.
Whatever led to either artist’s death, suicide experts say that the United States needs to put more money and resources into research and into mental health services and suicide prevention.
“Suicide is a big problem, but it’s under-resourced and under-funded,” Mark Kaplan, a professor of social welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles told the Guardian. “Many people don’t realize it’s an important public health problem until reports like this come out, but we should be paying closer attention year-round.”
If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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