In an expansive new piece for Rolling Stone, friends and loved ones of Chester Bennington trace the final days before the beloved Linkin Park frontman’s suicide, and the resulting story is a mixture of a man who was loving life and looking forward to the future, and an addict who could only take his life one hour at a time.
Although he’d been in recovery for over a decade, Bennington had recently been succumbing to substance use again. Back in 2006, he’d had a couple stints in rehab, and lived soberly since, but according to the piece he relapsed last August and been drinking as recently as October. Ryan Shuck, Bennington’s bandmate in the side project Dead by Sunrise said Chester was six months sober.
“He was describing an hour-by-hour battle with addiction,” Shuck said, seeing old text messages in new light after his passing. “When I look at it now, it’s horrifying. He was telling me, down to the detail, what he would do in the first hour he wanted to drink: ‘I basically just take it hour-by-hour every day.'”
According to TMZ’s report of the scene at Bennington’s house before his death, there was an empty bottle of alcohol on the scene. Like his friend and fellow recovering addict, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, Bennington hung himself with a belt, and speculation about the involvement of drugs and alcohol was loud.
Bennington hung himself on what would’ve been Cornell’s 53rd birthday, making his performance at Cornell’s funeral feel even more gut-wrenching, retroactively. As for his choice to end his life on this date, Shuck thinks it was only a small factor, if it had any bearing.
“It could be a part of it, but it’s a small part of it,” he said. “I think that it’s just another horrible event that gets put in your subconscious. It’s kindling, but the fire was already burning.”
Shuck hypothesized that Bennington “had a couple of drinks” before he died. “We don’t know how much, but it doesn’t take much when you’re that advanced an alcoholic and an addict and you’re battling to the extent he described to me,” he said. “You don’t need much to lose your mind for a minute.”
Read our obituary for Chester Bennington, a rock star when rock stars were rare, here.