When I heard about Anthony Bourdain, the famous chef and entrepreneur’s death, I felt my heart sink. My husband and I would “No Reservations” and now “Parts Unknown”. He really found a part of himself in Anthony Bourdain. He loved how he would go to these remote places, get to know the locals and focus on the meaning that the food had on the community. I think that’s what made Anthony so special and why he was so loved by the public, his way of connecting people from around the world.
Kate Spade was a surprise too. I didn’t really follow her celebrity but I’m very aware of her brand. It’s hard to go anywhere in the city without seeing one of her bags or her jewelry. She has a very clean cut and innocent vibe to her brand, so when I heard about her suicide I was just as much of a surprised.
The news of the two suicides came less than 24 hours of eachother and it felt Iike a pop culture loss.
It had me thinking a lot about happiness and what that means for us as humans. It begs the question, how do you find true happiness? I mean Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were the epitome of success. I think there are very few people who can top their success in their industry. They had strangers that looked up to them and they inspired so much in others. Yet…in a moment they could not find the will to live nor happiness to be found. Which brings the question, what hope is there for the rest of us?
One thing we can be sure of is that happiness is not found at the bottom of a well funded bank account. Money is not the formula for happiness and yet so many of us chase it as way to get us to the next place. “If only I got a better job..” “if only we could get ahead of these bills” “if only we could get our debt down,” but what happens after you meet those kind of goals? What happens after we reach for the next step and the next step, only to realize there no prize for reaching the top?
I read an article about people’s different responses, a lot of people were surprised and disappointed. Neither family could suspect this as a possibility for their loved ones. Val Kilmer, gave his perspective that he thought it was selfish decision to leave family behind. I can respect that point of view from him given he had battled throat cancer and literally had to fight off death. My parents always told me that suicide was a selfish, cowardly choice to make, that only caused pain and stigma onto loved ones.
But still it’s hard for me to say that people who commit suicide are terrible people who are throwing their lives away. We can never truly know someone’s pain and suffering.
The CDC says it’s an epidemic now for mental health since overall suicide deaths are up 30% in the country. And that depression and anxiety are not necessarily an underlying cause for the increase. Many people who attempted or committed suicide have not been diagnosed for any mental illnesses nor were they suspected of any issues from their family. This statistic might be caused by the stigma surrounding mental illness and the fact that many people still don’t get the help they need from therapists and psychologists, but it something to consider. Rather, CDC says that majority suicide attempts are correlated to a sudden negative change in life, like a family death, end of a relationship, or financial hardship. They also say that guns are the most frequent and most successful means to commit suicide and suggest that some gun control would make it harder for people to make life ending decisions in a moment of desperation or sadness.
I wish I knew all the answers to what is a complicated and complex issue. My only advice do those battling suicidal thoughts is to focus on being happy with the life you have now and tell somebody about your struggles and get help. Talk to a therapist about your symptoms for anxiety and depression before it gets out of control. Seek help.
My husband had a cousin that came out of the closet, he told his friend and then his friend told everyone else at school and said to this cousin that he wouldn’t have been his friend if he knew he was gay. This kid battled depression and suicidal thought but then he told someone. And then that someone got him help.
One thing we do need to end mental illness stigma and discrimination. This will make communication about problems and illness easier.
[If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.]