Usually, this would be time to start things off with some flowery metaphor or an inflated opening, but considering the somewhat bleak times we live in, we’re just going to be straight up. Suicide and depression is real.
Let’s look at some stats. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death of all Americans. Various new studies (including those from the CDC) have revealed that suicide rates among all races/ethnic groups have been steadily on the rise after 2008, from rural areas to our youth. White men and Native Americans are still leading, though rates among black and latinx citizens have increased at a lower rate. What makes this more even dire, is that on the night of the 2016 presidential election, the phone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline reportedly ran a record breaking 660 times.
The latest high profile tragedy was the death of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington. The late vocalist reportedly hanged himself in a “private residence” at Palos Verdes Estates in Los Angeles County. Even sadder, Bennington, who struggled with depression over the years had ended his life on his late friend Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday. He passed away in the same way that the Soundgarden frontman ended his life this past May.
The late Bennington had always been outspoken about his mental health issues. Not too long before he passed away, he gave fans a message about his current battle, calling it a “bad neighborhood”.
“My whole life, I’ve just felt a little off,” said Bennington. “I find myself getting into these patterns of behavior or thought – especially when I’m stuck up here [in my head]; I like to say that ‘this is like a bad neighborhood, and I should not go walking alone’”.
He continued: “Most of my problems are problems that I cause myself. That’s what that song’s about – that time when you consciously look at that. Once you acknowledge what it is, you can separate yourself from it and do something about it, as opposed to just being in it.”
Unfortunately, Bennington would not be the first nor the last musician to end their life because of struggles with mental health. We lost many legendary figures in music such as Kurt Colbain, Captial STEEZ, Donny Hathaway, Paul Williams of the Temptations, and many more as a result. It is as common in the music industry as it is in our own neighborhoods. And ironically, musicians are the ones who often save the lives of those who are going through dire times or face mental health issues, including suicidal thoughts.
Considering how suicide and depression have been more prominent in recent years, it’s high time that the conversation surrounding mental health be taken more seriously. Thankfully, artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi and Logic (though they wouldn’t be the first) among many other musicians have taken great strides to address both their own battles and to bring awareness to help those who fight the same internal war as they do through their stirring music. It is that connecting bond of despair turning into faith that ultimately help save lives.
The late, great Bob Marley said it best: “one good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” In that spirit, VIBE is proud to present a list of 21 songs that we hope might help you and yours cope during those dark and bleak moments. This contains some of the most cathartic songs ranging from upbeat to melancholy, from various genres concerning heartbreak, sadness, depression, suicide, and overcoming all of it.
And remember, if you ever feel the urge or need to talk to someone, please seek a close friend or family member, or call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“Smile” (2017), Wale ft. Phil Ade and Zyla Moon, Shine
“Heartbroken” (1996), Aaliyah, One In A Million
“Tie My Hands” (2008), Lil Wayne ft. Robin Thicke, The Carter III
“Mental Warfare” (2012), Starlito ft. Robin Raynelle, Mental Warfare
“Sinner” (2016), Phora, With Love
“The Battle Is Not Yours” (1993), Yolanda Adams, Save The World
“Talking To Myself” (2010), Eminem ft. Kobe, Recovery
“Suicidal Thoughts” (1997), The Notorious B.I.G., Ready To Die
“Running Away” (1978), Bob Marley, Kaya
“Breaking The Habit” (2003), Linkin Park, Meteora
“The Vent” (2011), Big K.R.I.T., Return of 4eva
“I’m Sorry” (2016), Joyner Lucas, 508-507-2209
“1-800-273-8255” (2017), Logic ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid, Everybody
“Hold On (Help Is On The Way)” (1996), Whitney Houston, The Preacher’s Wife OST
“Imagine Me” (2005), Kirk Franklin, Hero
“Resentment” (2006), Beyoncé, B-Day
“Really Be (Smoking N Drinking)” (2014), YG ft. Kendrick Lamar, My Krazy Life
“I Need A Dollar” (2010), Aloe Blacc, Good Things
“Ex Factor” (1998), Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
“Slippin” (1998), DMX, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot
“i” (2015), Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly