Suicide is a shock to the living. We can’t accept it. Reactions range from sorrow and grief to anger at the person who chose the time and the means of their demise. As if somehow they should have considered everyone else’s feelings before making the most personal and final decision one can make. I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy, or that somehow Chris Cornell’s suicide makes sense to me, because it hasn’t and it doesn’t. The mind reels to consider it. How could a man with so much choose to check out and leave it all behind?
We will likely never have a satisfactory answer because Chris isn’t around to tell us his reasoning for the final decision of his famous life. People who knew him well are having their say, but they seem as shocked as those of us who were just fans; who didn’t really know the man at all, but felt like we did because of his contribution to the world.
Reading his lyrics is perhaps the closest thing we can get to a suicide note, but I have to be careful to remind myself he was making art. He was writing poetry. It would be easy to latch onto a song that lines everything up, to show he was depressed and wanted to die, but you’d have to ignore all the songs that didn’t fit that mold. We all fall on black days, and for some those falls are more frequent and more painful than others. Was Chris mentally ill? I don’t know, and the possibility exists that that is nothing more than an easy answer to the unsolvable problem of his suicide: “Well, he was just sick. The sickness finally got to him.”
I can only say that I’ve taken myself down the road as far as I can go. Allowing myself to feel as pessimistic as I can about the future, as regretful as I can about the past, as nihilistic as I can about the pointless meaningless of all of it and when I get nice and dark, down in the well, staring into the abyss, I still can’t get to the next step. I can’t feel like ending my life is an answer to anything. So perhaps I’m destined to never understand it, to never have closure. I’m doomed to acceptance of what is as the only answer I’ll ever have. Chris Cornell killed himself and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.
I think we tell the deceased to rest in peace because we all know that peace while living is a bar set too high. In all its wonder and beauty, living also comes with pain and sorrow, strife and torment, sadness and despair. For some unfortunate ones, the scales are tipped decidedly toward misery. For Chris Cornell, in that fateful moment of deliberation, the decision was to get some peace and get it permanently.