Blog for MEN.
Lyrics of music say a lot of what is going on in the writer’s heart. The recent suicide of one of the leaders of the rock band Linkin Park brought this issue up. Hopefully, this time things will get more serious as the awareness of suicide among middle-aged men is starting to be perceived as a worldwide major crisis. If you stop and check the lyrics of Chester Bennington, you will notice most of them talk about numbness, alienation, crawling and ‘somewhere I belong’. It is art, and, at the same time, was a cry for help. The problem is that the cry for help was all mixed up with the noise, business of life and the success that came along with it. All these made it easier for the calling for help pass by unnoticed.
One thing is certain, inner pain, the wound of the heart, and the crisis within are a great ally for arts. There is no doubt about that. The challenges from these lessons will be to identify the crucial point of the pain in time, leaving behind the whole success and noise that comes with it, and deal authentically with the wound of the soul. One great example that he didn’t commit suicide and the band is still alive and very successful is the case of James Hatfield of Metallica.
Hatfield is a good example that there is hope. That it is possible to create spaces where men can feel safe and encouraged to open up and talk about loneliness, alienation and suicidal despair. There is a great opportunity to the movement from ‘suicide contagion to suicide hope’ to happen now. It has never been a great time to discuss death openly. It is as Yalom says ‘ while physical death destroys us, the idea of death saves us”. Only by creating safe spaces for men to talk about what they are most afraid of that the ultimate hope for their lives can be seen.
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Sadly, this is not the first case this happened. The tragedy of Ian Curtis, the leader of the Joy Division band, almost 40 years ago, that committed suicide after an apparent broke up with his wife is another similar case. In the album the band was about to launch, a few of his songs was basically saying he didn’t want to live anymore. That his time was coming. The front page of the album was death old man. In a documentary produced by BBC, it is clear that the integrants of the band, even talked to each other, asking themselves if Ian Curtis was meaning what he was saying, or just producing art. Obviously, they all bet on the latter. Tragically, he meant what he wrote and followed that up. On the documentary, it is even clear that on 80s men used to not talk about their feelings at all. Therefore, his mates didn’t know how to approach him to talk about his feelings and inner pain. Back then, this awareness we have today was inexistent, as the suicide rate was way lower than what it is now.
To read about The Men's Sacred Wound, click here.
To read about Men's Grief Work, click here.
The Work of Authentic Manhood
In a documentary called Absent, Hatfield opened his heart and spoke openly about his father wound, that led him to use drugs, only awakening him up after his best friend died of a cocaine overdose. From that point on, he went on a deeper journey - through grieving. He learned how to express his pain through his music, but without letting them consuming and take control of him - it was not easy. Eventually, he survived and today his dream is to become a grandfather of many children. He is conscious of his role as a father to the point to stop a Metallica’s concert to play birthday song to one of his child in the middle of an audience of almost of a hundred thousand.
Felipe Oliveira provides counselling for men facing challenges in life. Click here to know more about his work. Or, please, continue reading this short article about the suicide among rock stars and their influences.