By Erika Kellerman, Communication and Media Senior, and Bri Griffith, Creative Writing Senior
Chester Bennington committed suicide a few days ago, just months after Chris Cornell.
Fans used their music as an escape. Their fans have loved their bands for years. Both singers were the reason a lot of their fans are alive today, and both struggled with mental illnesses themselves.
Artists battle their mental illnesses, but instead of just being surrounded by their families and friends, they have the media and the rest of the world watching and waiting for them to fall. Artists go from touring months and months at a time to going to the studio, and without breaks, it’s not healthy.
I’ve heard the argument “Well, they signed up for this.” Yeah, they pursued a career in music, but constantly being in the spotlight of the media and fans isn’t something most artists signed up for. They’re here to put their music out into the world and play for fans. The constant criticism that comes with fame isn’t something anyone wants.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned from watching our heroes rise and fall, it’s that you truly do not know what’s going on in their mind. You see a superficial version of them. You may see or hear their thoughts, but it only brushes the surface.
We put artists on a pedestal. We expect so much out of them; we want them to impress us. We want them to stop and take pictures, be at radio appearances, have tours, release a numerous amount of albums, all the while forgetting they are just one person trying to bring music to thousands of people.
Artists are people with extraordinary jobs. Like anyone else, they have thoughts, feelings, and mental health issues. They hurt just like we hurt.
In addition to high expectations, management doesn’t always work to relieve an artist’s stress. Sometimes, tours extend for more than 60 days with barely any free days for the artists to rest, or they’re doing radio shows in-between live shows. Although artists may enjoy being busy, sometimes the line is crossed when it comes to what a person can handle.
Take a break. If you are feeling stressed, alone, or like you’re going to explode- take a break. Go to therapy. If you have to trash an album, trash an album. Put off releasing a single. If you have to postpone a tour, postpone a tour. Fans know it’s easier said than done. Contracts cannot be broken.Tours cost money. But in the end, if you’re not well, who’s benefitting? Your fans love and respect you, and should understand that you need to take a break. This is your job; take a mental health day (or days). Take some time to reflect upon why you became an artist in the first place.
Mental Illnesses cannot be brushed off. Please talk to your loved ones. Talk to a therapist. You are not weak for seeking help. You are not weak for hitting your breaking point. You are worthy of getting better and you are worthy of happiness.
We don’t know you and we probably will never know you on a personal level, but just know that we are here for you. It’s okay if you put off a single, an album, or postpone or cancel a tour. We will be patiently waiting for you with open arms.