Kurt Cobain was the singer, songwriter and guitarist of the American rock band, Nirvana. A talented grunge performer, he became a rock legend in the 90s with the single ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. However, after a lengthy battle with drugs and depression, he committed suicide at the age of 27.
Early Life and Career
Cobain was born on February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. He was often described to be a happy and excitable child, who also exhibited sensitivity and care. His talent as an artist could be seen from the drawings of his favourite characters from films and cartoons that he made in his bedroom.
A 20-year-old Cobain formed the punk rock band Nirvana with Krist Novoselic in 1987.
The name of the band, apparently, was taken from the Buddhist concept, which he described as “freedom from pain, suffering and the external world”.
Nirvana’s debut album ‘Bleach’ was released in 1989. However, his band found breakthrough success with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from their second album “Never Mind”.
Courtney Love and Cobain first met during one of his performances in Portland, Oregon, in 1989. However, it was only in late 1991 that the two bonded through drug use. They got married on February 24, 1991, on Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. Love was already pregnant during the wedding, and the couple’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was born on August 19, 1992.
Drug Addiction and Mental Illness
From what we know to be true through Cobain’s cousin, he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and Bipolar Disorder (also known as manic depression) at a young age. She also brought attention to the history of suicide, mental illness and alcoholism that ran in the Cobain family. Further, she talked about the suicides of two of her uncles who shot themselves dead.
Having had a rough childhood after his parents’ divorce, he started smoking marijuana at the age of 13. It was an attempt to cope with his mental and physical problems. He additionally suffered from chronic bronchitis and severe pain from an undiagnosed chronic stomach condition. He regularly used the drug during his adulthood.
His first experience with heroin, however, occurred in 1986. Soon he began using it intermittently for several years, thereby getting addicted to it. It was heroin that wrecked the remaining days of his years by affecting Nirvana’s tour and public image.
Cobain, in the last years of his life, struggled with depression, chronic health problems and heroin addiction. Most of us know that Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle and it was ruled a suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.
The lesser known fact, as stated by his wife, is that he had suicidal tendencies and had attempted committing suicide a couple of times earlier.
As per Courtney’s statement, he had first attempted suicide in Rome by overdosing on a combination of champagne and Rohypnol. Thereafter, he had apparently locked himself in his room with guns and bottles of pills, and Courtney had to call the police, who on arrival confiscated several guns and bottles of pills from Cobain.
A few weeks preceding his death, Courtney, along with his friends and family, arranged an intervention to curb Cobain’s heroin use. After a lot of reluctance, he finally agreed to undergo a detox program. He went to Exodus Recovery Center in Los Angeles on March 30, 1994, but didn’t stay there for more than a day. The following night, he climbed over a six-foot-high fence and escaped from the rehab.
A few days later, he was found dead in his Seattle home on April 8, 1994, after dying from a gunshot wound to the head on April 5, 1994. A high concentration of heroin and a small amount of diazepam were found in his body.
Kurt Cobain’s Suicide Note
A suicide note was found near Kurt’s body, addressed to his childhood imaginary friend Boddah. The letter stated how he had not felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing, for too many years then.
In the note, he also wrote that he cannot fool anyone of us. He thought it was the worst crime to rip people off by faking it. Further, the letter stated that he cannot stand the thought of his daughter, Frances, becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that he had become. He said he does not have the passion anymore and how
it’s better to burn than to fade away.
The note ended with a message to his wife which read ,
“Please keep going Courtney, for Frances. For her life, which will be so much happier without me”.
Did we miss something?
Suicides, in case of addiction victims, are often blamed on drug abuse. While that holds true for quite a few, what one fails to understand is that mental illnesses often lead to drug abuse. Individuals with mental disorders, aware or unaware of the same, often abuse drugs to escape reality. These drugs end up suppressing certain emotions and arousing the others, thereby affecting one’s mental health even more.
We need to talk about it openly and spread awareness about the same. It,s becoming such a major concern and yet, people are still hushing it up. By the time we realize a little love, care and affection could have helped someone in need, it is usually too late. Perhaps all that they need sometimes is someone to talk to. Maybeall they need is someone to hear them out. A proper treatment of the mental illness could probably have stopped them from abusing drugs in the first place, just like it would have stopped a legend from ending his life at such a young age.
This post was written by Rounak R Nayak, who is an advocate, a writer, an avid reader, and a contributor for We, Included.
Edited by Preetika Dubey