Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade: How Can We Learn From These Tragedies?

The recent deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade highlight a public health issue. Their deaths were reported to be suicides. Suicide is a response to an immense amount of pain that is devastating in its wake.

For those who don’t know, Anthony Bourdain was a celebrity chef, author, and television personality. He changed the way people viewed food, restaurants and travel. Perhaps less known, according to Associated Press writer Lindsey Tanner, he was known to champion immigrants workers.

Kate Spade was a well-known fashion designer. She started her career working at the fashion magazine “Mademoiselle” and rose to the job of Senior Fashion Editor. She needed a change so she quit her job and started designing handbags. Ms. Spade built her business from nothing to a fashion empire that included shoes, clothing, jewelry and home goods. Her story was a rags to riches story. She inspired many women.

Mental illness does not discriminate. Anyone, including celebrities, can suffer from issues including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other issues. People suffering with these issues often isolate themselves and/or don’t talk about what they’re really feeling and experiencing.

Suicide is a growing problem in the United States. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a recent survey  showing suicide rates increased by 25% across the country over nearly two decades ending in 2016. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Every day, 123 people kill themselves.

Again, I’m asking: how do we make sense of these tragedies? Can we learn from their pain so that others don’t have to suffer in silence.

Suicide and Depression

People who commit suicide are in a lot of pain. Their ability to cope is far exceeded by the amount of pain experienced. A common reaction by those left in the wake of suicide is “Why didn’t I know?”, “She never talked about it.” “There are people who look so happy, you’d never suspect they think about suicide, much less attempt it” (quote from Jill Gleeson; Good Housekeeping, June 8, 2018).

A normal reaction to suicide is, “How could s/he do this to his/her family?” Having worked on a mental health center crisis line, I know that the person probably wasn’t thinking about his/her family. Their pain was so great, and they battled it for so long; they may have just wanted the pain to end.

In addition, people tend to equate success and wealth with happiness. Depression doesn’t discriminate. It can besiege anyone regardless of their economic or social status. It also greatly impacts the family. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Sleeping too much
  • Loss or increase in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anhedonia or no longer enjoying activities previously enjoyed

Depression isn’t experiencing just one of these symptoms and it isn’t just for a day or two. Depression is an illness that people can battle for a lifetime. It’s important to note, there is a difference between human response to sad or troubled events and depressive disorders. Grief can also look like depression.

In the June, 2018 “Good Housekeeping”, write Jill Gleason said, “Mental health is like any other illness – it’s not a choice, and you can’t ‘snap out of it’.

If you experience these symptoms for an extended period of time, you may benefit from professional help. People who experience severe depression may have thoughts of suicide. This doesn’t mean they are going to act on them, but they do need to seek professional help.

Are you Triggered By Anthony Bourdain’s or Kate Spade’s Suicide

Many of us have experienced the suicide of a friend or loved one and have been triggered by the news stories of these suicide. If you are feeling anxious, depressed or are in need of support, call me at (303) 444-2003. I can help you work through your feelings and regain your equilibrium.

Suicide Prevention Resources in Boulder County

Sadly, Colorado is among the top ten states with the highest suicide rates in the US. Here in Boulder County, there are a number of resources for suicide prevention:

You Don’t Need To Live With Depression and Pain. How I Can Help:

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