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Peace of Mind

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In the past year the rock and alternative music scene has lost some of the greatest musicians of the last three decades;

On May 18th, 2017 Chris Cornell was found dead in his Detroit hotel room. Struggling with depression throughout his life, Cornell had hung himself. The untimely death of one of the most influential voices and songwriters, arguably of all time, shocked the music scene. He had incredible talent and songwriting abilities, from Soundgarden to Audioslave to his solo projects. Cornell undoubtedly forged a path with and for countless grunge and alternative rock bands and without his influence modern musicians would not think or play the same music they do today.

Few months later on the 20th of July, Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington was also found hung in his California home. Also struggling with depression and a close friend of Cornell’s, Bennington’s death similarly left a void in the alternative music scene and the immense success of his work in Linkin Park is similarly hard to miss. Depression claims the life of yet another pioneer of modern music.

Both were highly sensitive people, otherwise they would not have chosen the career path they did. Both “had it all”, yet something inside of them felt inadequate.

Too much interference of drugs and alcohol in someone’s system are bound to magnify mental illness and deep depression and rock stars are the furthest thing from immune to encounters with these substances. But despite this, the problem of mental illness is still alive and well, and yet still relatively unaddressed. People often forget that these problems do not need to be triggered by trauma or substance abuse and are often treatable, but often never go away completely.

Anxiety and depression can be triggered by things as simple as stress and with round about 300 million people in the world, diagnosed as clinically depressed, this disease has become a completely normal, despite the fact that it is often completely unspoken of. What’s more is that a lot of people get prescription drugs off their health provider, rather than therapy, often misdiagnosed as actually depressed rather than having a depressive episode, which most of us will experience in our lives at one point or another.

The truth is that the word “depression” is a very dark and dangerous word indeed. It can lead to self-consciousness, confidence, trust and personality issues and often more serious disorders like schizophrenia can occur alongside it.

Depression’s symptoms are usually completely invisible, and this is why so many cases of it go completely unnoticed, hence the surprise of the suicide of Cornell and Bennington. Both vocalists have never strayed from discussing sensitive issues in their lyrical content and Bennington’s last work in Linkin Park’s newest record, “One Last Light”, is a haunting reminder an overlooked cry for help. The happiest people, the people you think have it all together, may have self-doubt and confidence issues, but you will never know unless you take a closer look.

As a people and a community, we need to make an effort to fight this debilitating disease and to listen and watch the people around us. It only takes as little as a compliment to make somebodies day, and an insult to ruin it. In a time where social media is so important, we often lose the sense of how others actually feel around us.

As a Frankfurt International Student and soon to be alumni, I know that there is a lot that this student body needs to learn about mental illness. There are many sides to it that need to be brought into the light to explain the difficulties of many students who are either embarrassed or simply cannot express the way they feel. School service groups such as Peace of Mind serve to do exactly this aiming to help those to learn about these problems for either personal means or for communal awareness.

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