Rock stars and suicides are two concepts that have become disturbingly related. Far too many young talents lose their lives or choose to end it at the prime of their lives. Some of the rock musicians who lost their lives included:
Kurt Cobain, who died at the age of 27 by committing suicide,
Janis Joplin, who died of a drug overdose at the age of 27,
Nick Drake, who died at age 26 by taking an overdose of antidepressants,
John Ramon, who died from drug overdose,
Jim Morison, who lost his life at the age of 27, due to the same reason as John Ramon,
John Bonham of Led Zepplin, who drowned while he was drunk.
Marc Bolan, Richard Manuel, Keith Moon, Ron “Pig Pen” McKernan, Cass Elliot, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Chris Cornell and finally, Chester Benington, the 41-year-old star of Linkin Park, were also well-known talents who fell victim to the same vicious cycle.
Why do these people suffer from depression and prefer to hurt themselves with drugs, which lead to suicide? There is no doubt fame and its associated so-called benefits play a role in this. However, this alone is not the correct answer.
Hedonism, -pursuit of pleasure- has regrettably ensnared most of these talented musicians. Mostly coming from poor backgrounds, these young people are usually unequipped to handle the sudden rush of fame, along with which comes constant indulgence, non-stop travelling, and wealth. They find themselves surrounded by crowds all the time, but rarely those people include anyone that truly cares about them. Constant pressure, incessant and heartless scrutiny by the media and the public, unrestricted self-gratification, lack of human connection and spirituality, materialist values that run rampant in these industries eventually take a toll and push them to a world of depression and drugs. In addition, they are usually treated as profitable objects rather than respectable humans by most people in the industry and after a while, they painfully realize that all glamour and beauty of fame was an illusion that brought emptiness and loneliness. Most participate in rehabilitation programs to get rid of their addiction. However, these programs only scratch the surface of the problem and do not even try to solve the problems that led to the addiction in the first place. As a result, when the rehabilitation ends, most dive hard back to their old lifestyles, continuing where they left off.
Indeed, a recent research by Professor Dianna Kenny of the University of Sydney examined the lives of more than 12,000 musicians across all popular genres between 1950 and 2014 and found that musicians not only had significantly shorter life spans, they were also five to seven times more likely to die in an accident, two to seven times more likely to commit suicide. She said: “The results of this study are disturbing. Across the seven decades studied, popular musicians’ lifespans were up to 25 years shorter than the comparable US population. This is clear evidence that all is not well in pop music land.” Another 2014 study showed that the physically demanding task of being a rock star disturbs musicians’ internal clock, and circadian rhythms. Also they were six times more likely to have disruptions to their gene expression.
However, it doesn’t have to be like this. If these young people understand that life is not merely about worldly pleasures, their life and their art will undoubtedly be different. If they see that there are values much more significant than material ones, if they are treated as valuable human beings that truly and sincerely deserve love and respect, they will not fall so hard into depression. When that happens, they will not need excessive indulgence to find happiness, which never gives happiness anyway.
Furthermore, when this happens, millions of young minds across the globe, will stop wrongly believing that excessive emotionalism and drugs are fashionable. This will keep them falling from their own vicious cycle of depression and suicide. When these young people see that their role models are valuable, respectable human beings and not just talented artists, when they realize that their role models pay more attention to humanity, to spirituality, to kindness and love, and not just the materialist values, they will follow suit and work to be better versions of themselves. It is not hard to imagine how this massive change will reflect to our world today and in the future.
In other words, the music industry and artists have a great duty and a potential to help our world in an incredible way. With one song, with one TV appearance, with one public act of kindness, they can send an incredibly powerful message that will affect millions. There is no doubt that this change towards the brighter side, will help beautifully shape the future of our world.
—The author is a prominent Turkish writer and activist. He blogs at” www.harunyahya.com