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Chris Cornell & the Brutal Equalizer of Suicide

Chris Cornell & the Brutal Equalizer of Suicide

“He had it all going for him. How could someone so talented do this?”

Statements like this have been circling the internet after the recent death of Chris Cornell, frontman for Soundgarden, Audioslave and one of the greatest rock singers in history. Cornell’s death was ruled a suicide and brought an end to the life of a man who still had plenty to offer the music world, and more importantly the world of his family and friends. Our thoughts are with those impacted by his passing, namely his family and friends. Those initial notions are also likely familiar to anyone else who has lost a loved one to suicide.

There are plenty of questions and lessons that may be learned from these events. One of the latter is that suicide is an all too real occurrence that refuses to discriminate. On average, there are 121 suicides per day, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Those who take their lives decided they couldn’t deal with the mental, physical, and/or emotional circumstances and anguish, leaving those close to them with questions we will never possess answers to. If you have experienced the loss of someone who has committed suicide, you may be familiar with the heavy weight in the belief it could have been prevented. “Could we have done something differently,” we ask ourselves. “What was so bad that ending their life was the best solution?” Suicide is an action that permanently disrupts a number of lives.

It’s also possible that these questions are being asked by those around Cornell. His passing offers harsh realities, one of many being that celebrities aren’t invincible. Yes, they cast a larger shadow and they often engage in a lifestyle unfamiliar with anything even bordering on reality. This in itself is problematic because artists are just as human as us. Sometimes that disconnect to the real world can be the catalyst that creates a breakdown. It’s hard to persuade anyone to feel sorry for the haves but it seems important to at least agree on this; fame doesn’t fill the void in a person’s soul. Sometimes it widens the chasm.

When we see a star like Chris Cornell pass it should serve as a reminder that life and its preservation don’t exist as a a simple equation. Fame + talent + family doesn’t always equal happiness. When dealing with depression and other barriers to a healthy lifestyle, the path to an answer becomes far more complex, and there is no one size fits all solution. To try to factor logic into a decision like the one Cornell made seems to miss the point. Suicide isn’t an action that can be made sense of, no matter what angle you take in understanding why it happens.

On the surface, suicide may appear to some as the most selfish act a human could commit, and I certainly don’t condone the act. In fact, if anyone is dealing with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741. Know that you’re loved, even by strangers on the internet. In addition, we all would do better to not condemn anyone dealing with mental illness, addictions, or struggles that currently have them entertaining permanent solutions to temporary and/or potentially manageable problems. All we can do is listen and be there. It may seem like a passive choice but it has the power to save lives. When it comes to suicide, all the world truly is a stage. We must play our part in preventing it.

About Adam Sweeney

Adam Sweeney is the co-publisher, and Editor-in-chief at Playmaker Magazine. He currently lives in Austin.