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Chef, Author, and Influencer Anthony Bourdain Found Dead at 61

R.I.P.

Antony Bourdain

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889. Crisis Text Line by texting 741741. If you’re worried about someone, check the warning signs and what you can do.

Chef Anthony Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in Paris, by a close friend. CNN has reported that the cause of death was suicide. He was 61 years old.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” CNN announced Friday morning. “His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”

People from all walks of life are mourning the thoughtful man who was an idol to many. I myself remembered him as a chef who truly appreciated the food of different cultures with a love of the people who made them.

The announcement of Bourdain’s death, so soon after the suicide of Kate Spade, follows a report from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) that the U.S. Suicide Rate has increased over the past twenty years. According to the study, not only have the rates of suicide “increased in nearly every state over the past two decades” but in half of those states, the rates have gone up “more than 30 percent.”

Suicide has accounted for 45,000 deaths in 2016, according to the CDC, which is what prompted the CDC division in Atlanta to investigate the rates of suicide from 1999 to 2016. They found that suicide rates had risen most in the central, northern region of the U.S. North Dakota saw a 57.6 percent increase since 1999. Nevada was the only state that had no increase, and Delaware had the smallest increase at 5.9 percent.

“Suicide in this country really is a problem that is impacted by so many factors. It’s not just a mental health concern,” says Deborah Stone, a behavioral scientist at the CDC and the lead author of the new study. “There are many different circumstances and factors that contribute to suicide. And so that’s one of the things that this study really shows us. It points to the need for a comprehensive approach to prevention.”

Robert Gebbia, the head of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, reminds NPR readers that the nation currently has no federally funded suicide prevention program for adults. “There are some for youth, but they’re very, very tiny,” says Gebbia. “We can’t expect a major public health problem like this to be addressed unless we see the investment.”

I have attempted suicide twice in my life, and I’ve lost a beloved cousin to suicide. Neither time did I actively seek help longer than required; I was convinced that I could push it down deep enough. I didn’t want to be ill. I didn’t want there to be a deeper reason for my feelings that required work. I had instead convinced myself that it was a matter of strength and weakness, and as long as I was “strong enough,” it would be alright. Those ideas hadn’t taken into account I’d had these thoughts since around the age of 10, and that despite the numbers being low, kids do commit suicide, and among the highest are black children.

Throughout your life, when you express sadness and people scoff, “What do you have to be sad about?” it can make you decide that your sadness is not legitimate, that your feelings are not worth long-term contemplation. It does damage to seeking out help, because it stigmatizes your pain, painting it as weakness. We are not weak; we just need help, and it would be easier to get help earlier if people learned to stop treating those with mental illness as if we can just “get over it,” because there is no one who hasn’t tried that.

Compassion goes a long long long way. Ending the stigma goes a long way, because depression, anxiety, mental illness don’t care who you are. For those out there struggling, you are not alone, and to those who have people in their lives who’ve talked about this to you, listen. They are talking to you for a reason.

(image: Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.