Woke up to the sad news that Anthony Bourdain killed himself, also by hanging as Kate Spade, Alexander McQueen, L’Wren Scott, and Robin Williams all did.
Another. As a professional reminded me yesterday, it’s not the depression that’s the dangerous point as much as it is that moment on the way back up that they have the energy to act. And we cannot always tell when someone is struggling with mood and depression. Many have learned to hide it well.
Bourdain was open about his addictions and his dysfunction. Kat Kinsman even moreso:
But your customers, your diners, your readers — they can never know. It would ruin the illusion. Seeking help for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, addiction, not only is it a financial impossibility for people who often don’t even have access to basic healthcare — let alone mental healthcare — it’s stigmatized. We’re stopping each other from seeking help, and that’s got to change.
We don’t judge if a pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or if the immune system is dysfunctional. But the brain? Oh how we judge. And once again, the ignorant and self-righteous will take to social media to pronounce judgment and call suicide a “selfish act.” It’s not. Full stop.
As with so much other violence, how much will be enough for us to do something? We can start by ending the stigma once and for all around mental health. A talented psychologist told me if someone is determined to kill themselves, they will. That is true. It’s also true that those who have survived things like jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge said they changed their minds after they jumped. Let’s do everything we can to show that we’d like to keep them here until natural death. We can begin with understanding mental illness, destigmatizing it, and kindness… always.
Rest in peace, Anthony Bourdain.
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