Talinda is the widow of Chester Bennington, singer of Linkin Park, who died by suicide in 2017. After the death of her husband she founded the campaign "320 Changes Direction."
Talinda, how are you and the kids one-and-a-half years after the death of your husband?
TB: Thank you for asking. We are well. We have each other. We try to find joy in everyday things.
How did you manage to cope with the situation after your husband’s death?
TB: I just kept taking one step ahead. In the early days, I was responding to people on Twitter who were reaching out to me saying they felt helpless. I knew intuitively that I couldn’t help everybody. So I started asking others on Twitter to lift each other up. That became something really beautiful. That’s how I started to move forward. It developed into 320 and my partnership with Change Direction*.
Is that what brought you to talk about mental health?
TB: Yes, it is. In our household, there was a lot of shame and embarrassment around any sort of mental struggle that Chester would have. Going to a therapist was seen as shameful, or the need to take medication made him feel that something was wrong with him. If he would had lived in a society where we had spoken more openly about it, and if there were just more common knowledge about everything, I feel like things may have turned out differently.
What are you doing to take care of yourself?
TB: I do a lot of riding. I enjoy spending time with my friends. I have the best group of friends anybody can ever ask for. I also enjoy working out. I really enjoy doing stuff for 320 and making progress with that.
What impact have the fans of Linkin Park had on your life since then?
TB: The fans of Linkin Park have impacted me in such a beautiful way, because it feels like I have an extended family throughout the world. They are amazing towards the band and all their members including me and my family. They are also a huge part of the success of 320.
What was your personal aim when you founded the 320 Changes Direction campaign?
TB: There were a few. One of my first thoughts was: I had to try to make sense of my husband’s death because for him to die and nothing to change would mean he died for nothing. He had saved so many people through his music while he was alive. So that was probably one of the biggest motivating factors. The second was my kids. It had to make sense to them. They have to understand mental health; they have to understand about their father’s struggles, about their own conflicts. And that it’s okay to truly understand that dad was sick and that he didn’t do this because of them, that it’s not their fault.
What is the main focus of the campaign?
TB: The main focus of 320 Changes Direction is to talk about mental sickness and to develop technological-based solutions to streamline mental health care for family, friends, and those who are suffering. We want to create an understanding for using different words, like not saying “committed suicide” but saying “died by suicide.” And we want to establish that everybody understands the five signs of emotional pain. All this will create a big change.
Could you please explain the five signs to us?
TB: There are 5 signs that stand for emotional suffering: personality change, agitation, withdrawl, ...
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... poor self-care, and helplessness. If you recognize that someone in your life is suffering, you reach out, you offer to connect; you offer to help.
How can we make people talk about depression?
TB: We can create a platform to empower them; we can ignite them; we can create passion to help. We can create purpose to talk about mental health. 320 does this. We also want to create confidence that feelings and talking about mental health issues are nothing bad. We want to connect people worldwide and bring awareness. The more common it will be, the more people are willing to talk about it, the easier it is to really reach and help people suffering from this.
Does working for 320 help you to find your inner peace?
TB: It’s fundamental for my sanity. I believe it is now my calling. Emotionally, it’s extremely hard for me. It’s also extremely time-consuming, but I will never stop. This beautiful project is definitely a part of who I am now.
*Talinda Bennington’s 320 Changes Direction campaign addresses the needs of those who are suffering with mental health concerns and addiction. The campaign focusses on building a resource for friends and family members who are seeking answers to questions about mental health and addiction, so that they can support the people in their lives who are suffering emotionally.
For further information: changedirection.org
Art Direction | Claudia Schwarz
Film | Michael Parenteau