What Can We Learn From Kurt Cobain’s Death?
It was twenty-two years ago that Kurt Cobain died. When I first heard of his suicide, I had some rather uncharitable thoughts. They were essentially schadenfreude, thinking Cobain had everything so why would he take his life and why should I care. Having matured and experienced a lot since then, I know now that was pretty horrible. To his family and his fans, I apologize.
When I wrote about Robin Williams after his suicide, I talked about how those who need help most seem to be the best at hiding their pain. Kurt Cobain was of that type, inspiring millions with his music and social commentary. Then, to the surprise of many, he was suddenly gone.
I find it ironic that MTV, who Cobain helped greatly with his music, is now dismissing him with the flippant remark “Let him rest.” MTV is barely about music anymore, so I guess they have lost sight of how important it is to some people. When we are down, we listen to songs to either lift us up or wallow in bad feelings further. We celebrate important life events with music and dancing, and we send our loved ones to their final rest with songs as well.
While I was not personally a fan of Cobain, it cannot be overstated the influence he had both on the music industry and the fans who adored him. My sister identified heavily with the lyrics Coban crafted, and some days those lyrics kept her going where she might not have otherwise.
Despite what MTV said, Kurt Cobain’s death is still a relevant topic for discussion. His too-brief life reminds us that there are people out there silently hurting. They may think they are ugly, stupid, or that no one cares. It is tragic that on a planet of over 7 billion people, so many feel totally alone in their struggle with mental illness.
Most of the world (and the US in particular) is still trying to find a way to come to grips with proper ways to treat mental illness. So many people are scared to discuss it for a wide variety of reasons, and that just exacerbates the problem further. If we could openly discuss it like any other health problem, those suffering could get the help they need. So many world problems, especially violence, could be drastically alleviated if we went after mental illness like we do other things, such as cancer.
Twenty-two is also the average number of US veterans who take their life EVERY DAY. Mental illness takes too much away from our world to hide it in the shadows and whisper about it. If we actively reached out to those around us when they are breaking down rather than let fear of the unknown keep us away, think how many people we could save. And by extension, how many lives that touch those who are suffering would improve.
Suicide is always relevant, and what leads up to it should be discussed openly and often. If it were, maybe influential people like Kurt Cobain could inspire us longer. So, Kurt Cobain can rest now, but the rest of us should not.