Suicide, Chester Bennington, and SAD PERSONS

Under long or intense periods of great duress, it is not uncommon that people have thoughts about not existing. When the pain of living outweighs the pain of dying, the affected may take their own life regardless of the disaster it leaves behind.

Recently the lead singer for Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, took his own life. He was 41, had a wife and children. Why did he do it?

In previous interviews, he revealed that he had been abused as a child, drug abuse has been a part of his life, he was bullied as a child, his parents divorced, he battled gastro-intestinal issues, and about two months prior to Bennington’s suicide, his friend from the group Soundgarden suicided. Bennington sang at his funeral and stated that he could not imagine life without his friend.

Knowing signs of suicide is significant. I have consistently heard that we need to look for a motive, means, and method but that only gives a part of the picture with no measure of likelihood. There are a myriad of assessment tools to utilize and none of them are perfect. One tool to use is the modified SAD PERSONS acrostic (Oxford Handbook of Emergency Medicine, 3rd ed, p. 609):

Sex (+1 if male)

Age (+1 if 15-25 or 65+)

Depressed or hopeless (+2)

Previous attempts or psychiatric care (+1)

Excessive ethynol or drug abuse (+1)

Rational thinking loss (+2 psychotic or organic illness)

Single, widowed, divorced (+1)

Organized or serious attempt (+2)

No social support (+1)

Stated future intent (+2 if determined to repeat or ambivalent)

  • 0-5: may be safe to discharge (depending on circumstances)
  • 6-8: probably requires psychiatric
  • >8: probably requires hospital admission

Grief reactions, memories, and tributes have been posted for Bennington at http://chester.linkinpark.com. At the top of the page they have fantastic resources for suicide. If you need to talk to someone about suicide call 800-SUICIDE. An array of resources are found at http://www.suicide.org.

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