With the recent apparent suicide of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, articles on the Internet have been filled with sorrow, and speculation on why someone who ‘had it all’ would commit suicide.
I didn’t know much about Kate Spade other than her work, but Anthony Bourdain’s work showcased his personality and essence. His suicide was a shock, even to me. His career was going well, he was in a serious relationship, and was even quoted that he now can’t do anything stupid because he has a child. The old adage that you cannot commit suicide if you have a child, because it will make them feel unwanted or not needed by the parent committing the suicide didn’t seem to work.
I’m not a psychiatrist, but at some point he must have believed that ending his life was the best option.
Of course we have people who judge and call such people ‘coward.’ I don’t judge
Is suicide just reported more or is it truly on the Increase?
Another example of all seemingly fine going bad: just a couple days ago, I found out that a friend of a friend, seemingly happily married father of two also committed suicide. Other suicides I’m aware of also share the common perception that the person had it all. Yet they chose to go down this ‘taboo path.’ Instinctively we say, oh this is the worst. We have seen people struggle with cancer and other diseases and say, ‘Life is a gift, and you just took it when others don’t have this opportunity, they were taken by a disease.’ And what can one say to that? Bourdain, someone in seemingly good health, good many things, chooses to end his life when someone desperate to live is dying of cancer. It’s extremely hard to reconcile these two experiences as part of the ‘common’ human experience.
Are suicides just reported more (maybe less of a stigma these days) or are they really on the increase?
“Often, the suicide seemed to happen without warning: 54 percent of the people who killed themselves didn’t have a previously known mental health issue. Instead, these folks were suffering from other issues, such as relationship problems, substance misuse, physical health problems, job or financial problems, and recent crises or things that were coming up in their lives that they were anticipating,” says Stone. (full article:
People often say:
- He/she had a substance abuse problem
- He/she had mental health problems (e.g., depression)
- Insert the current conspiracy theory
<note: the above are not mutually exclusive>
Ultimately we will never know.
We all have our cycles, spirals, etc. But to me (and I’m not a mental health expert), it seems when someone commits suicide; they consistently return and get stuck in that low part. Sure everyone has horrible times, years, etc. but somehow they work their way out of it. Then if another ‘bad whatever’ strikes, they try again to work out of it. But for a person who commits suicide, maybe they stay there too long. It must be a complete sense of hopelessness combined with being useless. Again, this is pure speculation on my part.
We have musicians who sing about life not being worth living, etc. and they now are in their 50s, 60s, 70s-so maybe music is a way for them to overcome the constant suicidal feelings as artists.
We remember Kurt Cobain’s suicide note quoting Neil Young’s “it’s better to burn out than to fade away,” I always note, Neil Young never did commit suicide; he is now 73.
There are many songs about depression and suicide and those artists are alive, maybe an artistic outlet helps.
But, back to Bourdain’s recent and untimely (my opinion, not his) death. Again, not an expert disclaimer, but why is there an increase in the suicidal phone hotline publicity?
I can’t imagine that if I was at that point in life, I would dial a generic call center for help. These people don’t know me and I’m going to seek help and meaning of life from them? If they help save one life, sure publish it. But there has to be a better way.
Suicide of a loved one must be devastating. That is a huge struggle when thinking through how someone can commit suicide. For the one committing suicide, “how can I leave loved ones behind.” For the surviving loved one, “Is there anything I could have done?” And the loved one issue (even not with them constantly) further complicates all.
A direct conversation from The Hours:
“Would you be angry if I died?” – Richard Brown, The Hours
“That is what we do. That is what people do. They stay alive for each other.” Clarissa Vaughn, The Hours
“I’ve stayed alive for you. But now you have to let me go.” – Richard Brown, The Hours
The Hours is an outstanding movie that examines the choice of life and death. Provoking soundtrack by Philip Glass. For those who haven’t seen this movie, I will not discuss one of most powerful scenes.
I have known some older people skirting around suicide, they questioned life, but they never did commit suicide. Why? I’m not sure, was it religious beliefs, staying alive for loved ones to the end? I’ll never know, but I will say that I’m glad they didn’t commit suicide regardless of how life was going.
Isolation, Loneliness, Suicides
I recently blogged about Isolationism around the untimely death of Prince. It seems suicides, depression (not necessarily clinical), and loneliness are increasing. Definitely not a good trend. Connections among humans, friends, loved ones and significant others are increasingly broken.
The old song by Police, “Can’t Stand Losing You” states:
I guess this is our last goodbye
And you don’t care, so I won’t cry
And you’ll be sorry when I’m dead
When all this guilt will be on your head
I guess you’d call it suicide
But I’m too full, to swallow my pride
Not sure the “guilt will be on your head” applies these days.
“I have the best job in the world, and I’m very grateful for that …but the truth is I’m alone for most of that time,” Anthony Bourdain
“Life is complicated. It’s filled with nuance. It’s unsatisfying… If I believe in anything, it is doubt. The root cause of all life’s problems is looking for a simple fucking answer.” Anthony Bourdain 1956-2018
As with the Isolationism blog, I wonder how this will all turn out, at both the individual and community health level.
Updated 10/15/2022 – years after this sad occurrence the public found out that the ‘relationship’ was really not good, in fact, toxic. So as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. Speaking of books, I am reading the just published book, “Down and Out in Paradise, the life of Anthony Bourdain” by Charles Leerhsan. While many say let the dead be. So far it’s an interesting read. Why do we read such books? Many reason, for some of us it’s seeing some commonalities.