This morning I woke up bright and early, excited that today is Friday, and ready to jump onto my site and write a blog about music, since I had not done so in quite some time. To my astonishment and utter grief, however, I instead awoke to find out that Anthony Bourdain had taken his own life.
I’m not honestly even sure where to begin. The wind came completely out of my sails today, and it has been hard to focus on work or really anything else. No, I did not know the man personally. But as a semi-regular Sunday night ritual, I let him into my home on Parts Unknown, and I always looked forward to the fascinating stories that he told through his charm and talent. I am simply shocked and beyond words that there are now only a limited number of shows remaining – and that this amazing person, great talent, and obviously very tortured man – is no longer with us. Just like that. I really felt like I knew Tony Bourdain. It is as if I connected with him on many different levels.
The trend of suicide in this country is at an all-time high. I was mortified when I found out about Kate Spade just a few days ago; recent musician suicides such as Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, and now this.
The CDC recently released a report that suicide rates in America have increase by 25% since 1999. That is staggering. And what is scary, more than half of those who died via suicide had not been diagnosed with any prior mental health issue, according to a CDC deputy director.
And, the report appears to be accurate, in that no amount of fame, fortune or success keeps a person immune from depression and suicidal thoughts. We as humans need to be more aware of our surroundings and our fellow humans, and educate ourselves on what could be warning signs right in front of us. We never know the amount of distress that someone else might be in. They may be acting out and/or reacting in a way that could be counter to what we think as “classic depression.” But if our heads – yours and mine – are not out of our mobile devices long enough to see these potential issues, then it is just going to continue and get worse.
I’m sure that there are close friends of Tony’s who are wondering what they could have done differently, but I’m not sure there is an easy answer. Sometimes we simply do not know. But what I do know is that there are many people out there with love in their hearts that want to help; the key is for the person in torment to seek that help and know that there are those that truly do want to be there for them. Suicide is not the answer. It is a painful and devastating thing for the tormented soul to do to their friends and loved ones.
To me, in a way, today is “Black Friday” for me in worst possible way. It just sucks. There is no other way to put it. It is my hope that, through awareness, this gifted man will not have died in vain, and we can raise, and continue to raise, the awareness of this terrible issue.
If you are in distress – no matter how silly or trivial you may think it is, or how embarrassing or personal you believe your situation to be – please, please reach out to someone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a great place to start, if you don’t want to call your friends or family. 1-800-273-8255. DO NOT WAIT. They provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
And to you Tony Bourdain, I didn’t know you other than how your show brought joy into my home (although I felt I knew you, maybe because of your brilliance), but I am so, so very sorry that you felt like you had to take this final step. You will be more than missed by your fans and friends around the world, and I hope at least now your soul is at peace.