Will the Trend of Rock Star Suicides End Soon?

Not long after the shocking suicide of Audioslave and Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, the music industry lost another talent on July 21, when Chester Bennington, 41, the frontman of Linkin Park, took his own life following years of drug addiction and depression. He left behind a wife and six children.

Regrettably, these deaths weren’t entirely unexpected, especially given the disturbing pattern of depression and young death prevalent in the industry. In the last few decades, suicides, homicides, accidental deaths have become an eerily common sight for musicians. From Elvis Presley to Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison to Amy Winehouse, many great musicians have lost their lives prematurely due to the destructive lifestyles they led. As a matter of fact, a study led by Diana Kenny of Sydney University showed that rock stars tended to live up to 25 years less than the rest of the general population and their suicide, homicide and accidental death rates were much higher.

But why? Actually, part of the answer is almost common knowledge: The so-called ‘fast life’ that these young artists find themselves thrown in, is highly toxic despite its glamorous portrayal by the media. The sudden arrival of fame coupled with excessive indulgence, as well as alcohol and drug addiction, all too often proves to be a fatal formula. Surely, it is not possible to say that all musicians are affected the same way, but far too many fall victims to this vicious cycle. Especially when these excesses meet the culture of hate and materialism rampant today, a destructive emotionalism emerges and begins to haunt many talented artists.

As any Internet user might have encountered, hatred, hostility and cruelty is pandemic on the Internet. People attack each other unabashedly only for having different thoughts or different looks. However, for celebrities, it is a completely different story. They are constantly harassed, insulted, threatened and criticized both by the media and the public. No matter how successful they might be, there is always pressure to do more. They are criticized and scrutinized for every little thing they do. From their hairstyles to their art, from their looks to their children, they are constantly subjected to immeasurable amounts of scrutiny and animosity and on top of it, they can almost never find people around them that they can really trust and love. This persistent assault and isolation most of the time open deep wounds, and these wounds find the perfect environment to fester due to the negativity and melancholy that is almost a fashion in the world of music. As a result, many musicians make the mistake of turning to alcohol and drugs, which only compounds the severity of their problems. All these factors inevitably reflect in their music.

Furthermore, countless impressionable young people around the world look up to them in everything they do, and as a chain reaction, these teenagers are showered with intense amounts of angst, pessimism and toxic romanticism. Naturally, this negativity takes a toll on their young, vulnerable minds and souls.

This is one of the reasons behind the increased rates of depression, anxiety, delinquency, substance abuse and suicide among teens. According to a study, the suicide rate among teens rose by 200% between 1962 and 1982. The World Health Organization estimates that every year, more than 800,000 die by suicide and 15-29 age group –the most active followers of the music industry– are affected the most. Surely, there are many factors contributing to this trend but there is no doubt that the culture of depression promoted by some rock stars plays an important role. Many studies prove that listening to sad music can be very dangerous especially for people already suffering from anxiety and depression. In one study, researchers made participants listen to happy, aggressive and sad music and found that those that listened to sad music had higher levels of neuroticism and anxiety. Millions of young people already battling with low self-esteem, depression and angst, unknowingly throw themselves into a deeper depression by listening to gloomy music. It is not hard to imagine how this trend might affect the future of our world.

However, this destructive trend can be easily reversed both for the artists and their fans. If the artists and music industry in general understand and believe that true love and sincerity is possible, that spiritual values are more important than material ones, they can foster a different worldview that helps people overcome their sadness, depression and work to be better versions of themselves.

There is no doubt that music and art can be extremely effective ways of lifting people’s spirits and helping them towards a path of constant self–improvement. Indeed, in many different studies, scientists discovered that listening to happy music improves health and overall feelings of contentment. Once musicians and the music industry put their input into the equation of building a better world, they will quickly understand that their contribution is extremely important. This is crucial, not only for the sake of brilliant musical talents, but also for their millions of fans that are set to shape our world soon.

Adnan Oktar's piece in American Herald Tribune:


2017-07-25 20:04:10
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