Chris Cornell’s suicide rooted in depression

Everything appeared to be alright.

Reunited and on tour with his original band, Soundgarden, Chris Cornell tweeted at 8:06 p.m.:

#Detroit finally back to Rock City!!! @soundgarden #nomorebullshit.

The band roared through a blistering 17-song set, playing the grunge sound they helped invent, including hard rock radio staples like “Outshined,” “Black Hole Sun” and “The Day I Tried to Live.” Much has been made about the telling encore the band performed that night, “Slaves & Bulldozers,” that includes a snippet of Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying” with Cornell belting the eerie lyrics:

In my time of dying, I want nobody to mourn.
All I want for you to do is take my body home.

However, Soundgarden performed that same song combination two weeks earlier in Concord, North Carolina. And if fans are seeking foreshadowing of his death through song lyrics, several of Cornell’s own songs provided such insight, such as the closing verse of “Searching With My Eyes Closed,” in which he verbalizes the battle inside his mind:

Stop you’re trying to bruise my mind,
I can’t do it on my own.
Stop you’re trying to kill my time,
It’s been my death since I was born.
I don’t remember half the time if I’m hiding or if I’m lost.
But I’m on my way.

Like the many rock lead singers who committed suicide before him, Cornell turned his depression into beautiful music, and his deeply personal lyrics were treasured by fans who were suffering alongside him.

Everyone has internal demons — that voice in the head that is constantly telling a person to take the dishonorable, destructive and/or selfish path when confronted with a dilemma. Most people are able to silence that voice. But for someone suffering from depression — when in a depressed state of mind — that voice can become overbearing. There are multiple ways to deal with this. Drugs and alcohol are highly effective at silencing that voice, albeit temporarily. Another effective way is to somehow dispel that negative energy through activity, whether it be physical or artistic, such as songwriting and performing, as Cornell did beautifully.

But you never know when that voice will come back. And if it comes back when you are mentally susceptible, you never know what you are capable of doing. For Chris Cornell, like thousands of others every year, the permanent solution was suicide.

Contemplating suicide? Call 1-800-273-8255.

Battling Depression

Robin Williams’ suicide personally affected me. Not because I knew him, or even because I’m a big fan of his work. Rather, we have a mutual enemy: depression.

Like Williams, I’ve been battling depression for much of my life. It’s a difficult condition, not only for those afflicted but also for the afflicted’s loved ones. In addition to severe sadness, it can cause extreme anger. It can be a constant feeling, or in my case get triggered by seemingly unrelated events or an innocuous statement someone says.

A friend who knew about my depression innocently asked me, “Why can’t you just be happy? When I’m sad I just stop focusing on the negative and focus on the positive.”

I wish it were that easy. However depression can consume its victims in an inescapable way. And it’s impossible for someone who hasn’t suffered from depression to truly understand — much like it’s impossible for males to truly understand the pain of birthing a baby. Yet it would be considered socially unacceptable to tell a woman in labor to just “get over it” and “focus on the happiness of a new baby!”

Another misnomer is that one can tell when someone is suffering depression. Robin Williams — considered one of the funniest men in the world — is a perfect example to counter that claim. People are often surprised when they hear about my battle with depression. I’m generally considered outgoing and relatable, have a successful track record at work, have no addictions,  am financially stable, very involved with my church and community, and have a beautiful wife and three sons. By most definitions, I am living the American dream. But I still struggle with depression.

Hopefully Robin Williams’ suicide will be a wakeup call to those with depression. Several weapons are needed in one’s battle with the disease. My arsenal is filled with a very supportive family, helpful medications and consistent therapist and psychiatrist visits. I know it’s a battle that will likely be with me until my death. But I am determined to not be like Robin Williams, and let depression be the death of me.