Editorial: Draven Bennington Provides an Example to Follow

“I’m Draven Bennington, and I’m here on the National Suicide Prevention Week. I want to make a commitment that I will talk to someone before I hurt myself when I am feeling depressed, sad, or going through a hard week, month or year. And I want to challenge you to do the same, to help yourself, not hurt yourself.” – Draven Bennington, fifteen-year-old son of the late Linkin Park star Chester Bennington, speaking just weeks after his father’s suicide.

 

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The Loss of Chester

This past July, we lost famed Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington to suicide. Chester was known as many things: a rock legend, revolutionary, genuine and second-to-none performer. Probably, though, he would have described himself as none of those things before family man. In his will, he made a point of specifying that his six children be given every bit of money needed to travel and see each other. Per his last testament, “My children (should) know that they have a large and loving family.”

 

Confronted with the death of their father only a few months after his 41st birthday, Chester’s children should naturally be expected to grieve and not much else. Chester’s third child, Draven, saw past his grief and to the opportunity to help others and honor his father’s life. So just weeks after his father’s passing – as September’s National Suicide Prevention Week dawned – the fifteen-year-old took to the interview circuit to discuss a matter too close to his heart, suicide prevention.

 

 

Draven Speaks Out

Among many moving topics, Draven reported the past weeks don’t feel real; maybe it’s all a bad joke. He loves his Dad and wishes for anything else besides what happened. Contrary to what one might think, Draven discussed how happy his father seemed, how good he was at hiding his emotions. They were together – as happy as ever – just a week before his death. If he could say something to his father? “I wish he would have reached out more. I wish he would have talked about (how he was feeling). He did a little bit but then he covered up a lot.”

 

There’s the key. Let’s talk about mental health. For those who know someone who has at some point had tough battles, reach out to them. Ask how everything is. Regardless of how well they may seem to be doing, so many are too good at covering up. For those battling inside, particularly battles as scary as contemplating taking your life, talk to someone. Draven discussed how he wishes so much his father had just talked more about his inner-battles, that he was more open about the lasting impact his rough childhood had on him.

 

 

Following Draven’s Example

Setting aside how incredibly impressive and inspirational his reaction to his father’s passing is, Draven couldn’t be more on point. Let’s talk about it. Covering up mental health brings nothing but pain, whether it’s a parent who doesn’t educate their children, friends who fear their friends “finding out”, or a beloved father who suffers silently in secrecy. The world would be such a better place if we brought much-needed normalcy to discussing mental health. After all, there’s nothing weak or inferior about it.

 

Since his father’s passing, Draven found out that a lot of people he knows dealt similarly to what he is going through but didn’t speak up about it, preventing him from at least being there for them. This attitude of enabling and even encouraging killer mental health secrecy can’t continue. In his viral video (below), with the tune of his father’s mega-hit song Numb playing in the background, Draven implores his listeners to help yourself. Talk to someone if you are feeling depressed or sad.

 

Let’s follow Draven’s example; let’s talk about it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Etan Neiman, CPA

Etan Neiman, CPA

Etan Neiman, CPA, Refuat Hanefesh's Director of Operations and previously Editor-in-Chief, grew up in Chicago, Illinois and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Yeshiva University's Sy Syms School of Business. While at Yeshiva, he was editor of the student newspaper's Business Section and President of Active Minds, a national organization committed to decreasing mental illness stigma on college campuses. He currently works in downtown Manhattan as a Senior Accounting Associate for Brand Sonnenschine. Etan has spoken and written extensively about his mental health battles with Generalized Anxiety, Social Anxiety, and Depression. He looks forward to joining others on a similar journey to break the harmful stigma-induced silence. Etan can be reached at alexbneiman@refuathanefesh.org.
Etan Neiman, CPA

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