As the world struggled to come to grips with the tragic suicide of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington on Thursday, many Christians quietly revealed heartbreak at the 41-year-old artist's passing and confessed his band was their first foray into the world of secular music.
Bennington's death was confirmed Thursday morning by the L.A. County coroner. He reportedly hung himself at his Palos Verdes home in California. He was married and is survived by six children but had struggled with drug and alcohol addictions, according to Billboard.
The singer's band catapulted to stardom in 2000 with their album Hybrid Theory with Bennington's signature angst-filled vocals. He would later reveal that after his parents divorced when he was 11, he started smoking pot then graduated to cocaine and methamphetamine. He also said he was sexually abused by an older man as a child.
"When I was young, getting beaten up and pretty much raped was no fun," he told The Guardian in 2011. "No one wants that to happen to you and honestly, I don't remember when it started."
Bennington's death comes two months after his close friend, Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell, committed suicide in May. It was difficult for him.
A day after Cornell's death, Bennington penned a heartfelt letter to his friend and shared it on Twitter.
"I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with Rocky Raccoon playing in my head and a concerned look on my wife's face. She told me my friend had just passed away. Thoughts of you flooded my mind and I wept," he wrote.
"I'm still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude for having shared some very special moments with you and your beautiful family. You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivalled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one. I suppose that's what we all are. You helped me understand that. I just watched a video of you singing 'A Day in the Life' by the Beatles and thought of my dream. I'd like to think you were saying goodbye in your own way. I can't imagine a world without you in it. I pray you find peace in the next life. I send my love to your wife and children, friends and family," he ended.
The day Bennington took his life would have been Cornell's 53rd birthday.
On social news aggregation website Reddit, Christian users reacted in a thread titled "Pray for Chester Bennington's Family" where they also debated how God sees suicide.
"If you haven't heard the news, Linkin Park's lead singer, Chester Bennington, committed suicide. It's unclear whether or not he was Christian, but this is all a part of God's plan regardless. Growing up, Linkin Park was one of my favorite bands, and it's devastating to hear this news...," a user noted as Upliftance commented. The individual later edited the post to clarify that: "I misspoke, suicide shouldn't be labelled as part God's plan. No one should abuse their free will so much to the point of suicide that is definitely not what God wants."
"I pray you up, Chester Bennington! I heard God mention something about this day, but he does not give dates and time of departures, just something about it, I should have known--But thank you, God...you knew what would happen...but it was not of sadness...It is Chris Cornell's birthday...Chester, you tried so hard, here...in the name of my Savior, I ask forgiveness for you if you need it, and it is my duty and privilege...Chris, I believe, is already there," Hayes prayed.
"(btw, 'Faint' is my favorite, yes Christians love Rock and Roll, Alternative, all of it, whatever classification...I will miss you in this world, Chester). One more thing God placed on my heart...no matter who you are, none can buy what belongs to my GOD...for he is love, and it is ALL his, and Lord Jesus, rebuke all evil and subdue it...Chester and all of us are your children. Thank you God!!! Amen," she added.
On an exchristian thread on the social website, both Christians and former Christians told stories about how they first discovered the band.
"Linkin Park is the first non-church music I ever owned, and the Meteora & hybrid theory album was smuggled to me by a cousin. I was eleven, homeschooled, and my entire interaction outside of my home was sitting beside my family in a ... church on Sunday morning," wrote a user identified as auntgoat.
"Chester gave me words, for the first time to understand depression and isolation. He also gave me hope, that others felt the same things I did and that change was possible... It feels like I've lost a parental figure. Or a best friend. I am shattered and I started crying in the office this afternoon when I heard the news. That sounds dumb, I know. But this isn't just a celebrity death. While he never knew me, this band, and Chester, was hands down the most supportive and positive adult in my life as a kid," auntgoat wrote.
Earlier this year, Linkin Park's most recent album, One More Light, topped the Billboard 200. The lyrics of the album's first track, "Nobody Can Save Me," remains haunting in light of his death.
"I'm dancing with my demons/I'm hanging off the edge/Storm clouds gather beneath me
Waves break above my head/ At first hallucination/ I wanna fall wide awake now/ You tell me it's alright/ Tell me I'm forgiven/ Tonight/ But nobody can save me now/ I'm holding up a light/ Chasing up the darkness inside/ 'Cause nobody can save me," the song says in part.