April 5, 1994 is a day many of us will never forget. Truth is, there are times in life when certain events take place that have an everlasting impact on us. For music fans, the day we heard the news that Kurt Cobain died by his own hand is the day that the earth stood still. Today marks a sad anniversary that helps us remember a lives cut short. but not forgotten.
Cobain was a gifted writer and musician – those two things aren’t always mutually exclusive of each other. In this case, greatness manifested itself in a band out of Seattle called Nirvana. Khrist Novoselic played bass, Dave Grohl was on drums, and Kurt Cobain was on lead guitar and the band’s crooner. This trio would go on to change the musical landscape with one album – “Nevermind.”
Throughout the band’s existence, Cobain produced lyrics that for most of us needed a decoder ring. But for many of his fans, he was speaking a language they got. It was like a symbiotic relationship, a bilateral highway that only certain kids got.
Cobain was like the pied piper soothing their fans’ dark clouds with lyrics like “Everything is my fault, I’ll take all the blame, aqua sea foam shame.”
Many of us had no idea what Cobain was talking about, but for those that live with depression or other dark adversities, through his lyrics Cobain was a beacon. He was a ray of light that guided them. Sadly, in the end he succumbed to his demons. With all that is dark and dreary, obscure as it may be, life will offer us a way out. We just need to take that step and ask for help.
Life finds a way to move forward. As for Cobain’s sonic brethren, they found a way. Novoselic is still kinda in politics and remains in music with his band called Giants in the Trees. As for Grohl, he did OK for himself with that little band he fronts called Foo Fighters.
The truth is, they had a good support system. That helped, but reaching out to get help and talking was a greater feat.
Other contemporaries such as Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden | Audioslave | Temple of the Dog) and Michael Hutchence (INXS) weren’t as fortunate.
Sadly, for many there are many times that we believe it’s the end of the world. It’s not, it only feels that way. Trying to breathe until tomorrow is a challenge all into itself. The goal is to keep breathing and keep swimming. You just never know what the tide of life will bring to your shores in the next horizon.
So what exactly happened? These are the facts: twenty-seven years ago, on April 8th, the body of Kurt Cobain was found in the greenhouse of his home. He died three days earlier from a self-inflicted shotgun wound after writing his suicide note, which he signed with “Peace, Love and Empathy.” These are the facts, and these details are parallel to so many other suicides. But the facts don’t tell the story.
It was a watershed moment for sure, leaving many to ask the question… how could this have happened? Have you ever cried like a baby after hearing someone you didn’t even know died? Somehow, some way, they touched you when you were untouchable. You didn’t know them, they didn’t know you, and yet somehow they found a way to make the journey to the core of your being.
How many beautiful songs can only be heard in a heavenly choir? Kurt Cobain, (the aforementioned trio) Bennington, Cornell and Hutchence…we looked to them when everything else seemed unbearable. And yet, they couldn’t find salvation in that very same music. Rock stars like: Avicii, Ronnie Montrose, Sid Vicious, Keith Emerson, Bob Welch and Wendy O. Williams with seemingly everything we so often value and aspire to in this world couldn’t shake off that isolating, cold that often leads to suicide.
Peace, Love and Empathy.
Therein lies the story within the story. How many of us have felt a searing pain because we can’t touch or be touched by peace, love and empathy? Did you ever feel as though you were wrapped in plastic wrap with a weight pushing you down, and little to no desire to move? It’s just too much. No matter how much we have, whether it’s talent, beauty, intelligence, or heart, it feels like the effort of reaching is too much. Even if we do muster up enough energy to make the attempt, it’s heartbreaking because it feels like we are touching through a plastic barrier.
When times are tough, sometimes we can’t even feel the warmth of the sun on our faces because our own shadow is so dense. Sometimes the only thing that can penetrate the darkness is music. For many teens, or in this case, fans of Nirvana, that was their connection. Cobain’s music touched their souls.
From the depth of despair, a tune can infiltrate when nothing else can. A sonic highway can pass through all of the gateways and open the closed door to our hearts and souls. The amount of people that have feelings and thoughts like this is shocking.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death in people ages 10-35. Think about that, the second leading cause of death is self-induced. More than 25% of all young adults have considered suicide. Allow me to put that in real terms, the next time you look at four kids hanging out; odds are that at least one of them has considered committing suicide.
When interviewed, the predominant feeling of despair in youths today is the lack of hope. They overwhelming expressed that these are supposed to be the most fun ever and instead, it is one of the greatest burdens anyone living has experienced.
We can look to the artists like Cobain and Cornell, that bring so much magic into the world and ask ourselves, “What hope can we possibly have if even these people that bring such beauty to the world can’t find their way out of their pit of despair?”
Maybe, the question is the answer. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is that we aren’t so different. It’s not all of the trappings that make us happy humans. Our happiness is our personal responsibility and I believe that even in one of his last acts, Kurt Cobain still gave us a gift. Some of his last written words were the light leading out of the abyss.
PEACE, LOVE AND EMPATHY.
I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU.
We, each of us, are the music makers. We all have something beautiful within us and it is our duty to find that beauty and then share it with the world. It is up to each of us to take action. The two primary actions that can be taken and need to be taken in conjunction with each other are; recognize the plethora of things we have to be hopeful for, and seek professional help. Just remember, keep breathing and keep swimming!
Despite the darkness of the night of the sea of silence, and the brightness of the bluest skies, you can find at the borderline of truth that there is always hope.
If you or somebody you know is experiencing depression and have expressed thoughts of suicide, please call one of the numbers listed below.
911 is the national emergency number in the United States.
211 is a phone number in the United States for people in crisis who need emergency referrals to social and community services but are not experiencing an immediate life-threatening emergency. Services available vary by state.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/) is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. It provides Spanish-speaking counselors, as well as options for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. It is only available in the United States. A 24-hour an Online Chat in partnership with Contact USA is also available.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at (800) 273-8255. In July 2022, 988 will become the national three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, replacing the current phone number of (800) 273-TALK (8255). Americans needing support should continue to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) until then.
T-Mobile US customers can dial 988 to reach to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: (888) 628-9454.
Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255.
The Veterans Crisis Line (https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/) is a 24-hour, toll-free hotline that provides phone, webchat, and text options available to military veterans and their families. It provides options for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
The Veterans Crisis Line can be reached a (800) 273-8255, followed by Pressing 1.
The hotline will be available to be reached by dialing 988 by July 2022. The 988 number is currently activated on T-Mobile US. Like calling the other phone number, the Veterans Crisis Line can be reached by pressing 1 after calling the 988 phone number.
The hotline can also be reached by texting to 838255.
IMAlive Crisis Chatine (www.imalive.org) is a non-profit, worldwide 24/7, anonymous chatline to help anyone in crisis via instant messaging.
The Crisis Text Line (crisistextline.org) is the only 24/7, nationwide crisis-intervention text-message hotline.
The Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741-741.
Samaritans USA (http://www.samaritansusa.org/) is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in distress or at risk of suicide throughout the United States.
The Trevor Project (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/) is a nationwide organization that provides a 24-hour phone hotline, as well as 24-hour webchat and text options, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.
The TrevorLifeline can be reached at (866) 488-7386.
TrevorText can be reached by texting START to 678-678.
The Trans Lifeline (https://www.translifeline.org/) is a nonprofit organization that is created by and for the transgender community, providing crisis intervention hotlines, staffed by transgender individuals, available in the United States and Canada.
The Trans Lifeline can be reached at (877) 565-8860.