The New Trend: Drugs, Depression and Death

 

The music industry was shocked and heartbroken when Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the band Linkin Park, was found dead on July 20, 2017. He had committed suicide. According to the Rolling Stone, Bennington’s autopsy report showed traces of alcohol in his system, an addiction he struggled with “hour by hour every day.”

(Photo Courtesy of Picture Alliance)

 

Fans across the globe flooded social media with messages of support and mourning. Bennington’s death sparked conversations around suicide and mental illness. However, this was not enough.

 

Four months later, the accidental overdose of Lil Peep caused an enormous wave of despair among teens and young adults. Characterized as a post-emo revivalist, the rapper’s social media presence was often dominated by photos of drugs, booze, and concerts with edgy captions. One of the last posts he uploaded onto Instagram was a photo of a pill cut into half resting on his tongue with the caption “fucc it.”

(Photo courtesy of @lilpeep)

 

Channeling their pain into music, both of these artists spread hope and love to people around the world. For example, the song “One More Light” by Linkin Park created a sense of belonging and purpose for many people; “Who cares if one more light goes out / in a sky of a million stars… Well, I do.” These few lines intensify the idea that although there are millions of people alive, every individual's life matters.

 

On the other hand, social media has unintentionally glorified their actions. Suicide and pill popping are romanticized. Younger generations, starting with people who were born in the mid to late 90’s and into the early 2000’s, are obsessed with being cool and have made drugs and depression a trend. This is reinforced through the publicity given on social media and the number of likes or views a person can obtain. Adolescents have a propensity to behave the way their idols or icons do and begin to imitate their lifestyles.

 

Over the last eleven months, the entertainment industry has lost two other prominent celebrities: Avicii and Mac Miller. Avicii committed suicide on April 20th. Mac Miller overdosed on fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol September 7th.

 

According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), drug overdoses and suicide rates have increased in the United States. Suicide has risen by 30% across the nation from 1999 to 2016. Drug overdose escalated by 21.5% from 2015 to 2016 alone.

 

(Photo courtesy of CDC)

(Photo courtesy of CDC)

 

Celebrity deaths are at an all-time high. Social media has created an underlying culture where substance abuse and depression are the new trends. As social media platforms have gained popularity, this issue is brought to the forefront. Contrarily, how can society begin to have an open and honest discussion about drugs and mental illness without the aid of social media? Instead of leaving it up to the rest of the world, have a conversation with those you hold dear. Educate them. Talk to them. Listen.

 

Reverse the trend.

 

For help visit National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255) or National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Hotline  (1-800-662-HELP)