Late Linkin Park and Grey Daze vocalist Chester Bennington did nothing to indicate to his longtime friend, Sean Dowdell, also Grey Daze’s drummer, that he was ready to take his life a week before he died.
That’s what Dowdell shared in a new interview with Audio Ink Radio that emerged on Monday. Looking back on the days leading up to July 20, 2017, that date that Bennington died by suicide, the Grey Daze bandmate said the Linkin Park singer came off as upbeat in conversation with him. However, Dowdell’s wife did notice a change in Bennington’s behavior sometime before.
Dowdell recalled that “over the years, [Bennington] did struggle in several different areas. … But in the weeks and months leading up to his life-ending choice, I guess is the best way I can put that, I did not sense anything. I talked to him two nights before he passed, and he was on top of the world. He was excited about starting rehearsals. He was excited about a lot of things. … I didn’t sense anything.”
The Grey Daze drummer continued, “Now, eight or nine months before that, my wife sensed something in him and said, ‘Chester’s not right. Something’s off.'” And I said, ‘No, no, he’s just trying to go for a new look for whatever.’ And she said, ‘No, I can see something in his eyes.’ And she literally said that to me. And I just blew it off like, no, I don’t think so. And then, of course, what happened, happened. It’s easy to look back and go, Oh, yeah, she saw it. But you never truly know what’s happening in someone’s mind.”
Dowdell’s recollection of Bennington’s demeanor only 48 hours before the singer’s death goes to show that someone in the throes of depression, even contemplating suicide, can still act jovially for others.
“Had Chester been rationally thinking,” Dowdell reflected, “I don’t think he would have done what he did at all. I just think that’s what depression does. It removes the rational thought processes from the moment that you take that choice, and sometimes there’s somebody there to help talk you out of it … or to distract you away from it, but the way this happened, it didn’t.”
Asked what he remembers most about Bennington, Dowdell pointed to the late singer’s sense of humor.
“We had a really stupid sense of humor together,” he said. “We’d joke about the dumbest things and call each other and just talk about music and life and surfing or working out. Just, everyday stuff. He was just a normal guy, and he was a good friend, and I miss that part of him, just his sense of humor. I had some of the most fun and funniest moments of my life were hanging out with that guy.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. Resource information is provided for free as well as a chat message service. To speak directly to a professional, call 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone and help is available. Every life is important.