Fame and Success Can’t Beat Suicidal Depression Without Professional Help
This week, the world lost not one, but two highly successful celebrities to suicide.
From the outside, no one would have guessed Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain were contemplating taking their lives in the last few days leading up to their deaths. Both had built sizable business empires, were well-respected, and were living what appeared to be stable and happy lives.
As you often hear in the wake of surprising deaths, we could never have seen their deaths coming.
As more information comes in about the time leading up to these shocking suicides, one thing has become clear; both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain lived with depression and anxiety that were not satiated by success.
The husband of the fashion designer, Andy Spade, explained that Kate lived with depression and anxiety “for many years” and was seeking treatment.
“She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives,” Andy Spade told PEOPLE. “We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.”
While Kate kept her demons private, renowned chef and food-writer Bourdain openly talked about his struggles with depression and substance abuse. His books frequently talked about his experiences with drugs, alcohol, and mental illness. Even his hit shows like “Parts Unknown” could occasionally detour into explorations of how travel and isolation can affect someone’s mental state.
In one particular 2016 episode, Bourdain specifically delved into mental health while visiting Argentina. At one point, he notes he chose the country because it embraced psychoanalysis and mental health treatment more strongly than the majority of countries he has visited.
The episode is framed with scenes of Bourdain speaking with a psychiatrist. While at first, it seems like the discussions Bourdain is having could just be TV drama, it gradually becomes clear that he is sharing very personal struggles.
When asked by the psychiatrist what brought him to treatment, he explains, “I will find myself in an airport, for instance, and I’ll order an airport hamburger. It’s an insignificant thing, it’s a small thing, it’s a hamburger, but it’s not a good one. Suddenly I look at the hamburger and I find myself in a spiral of depression that can last for days.”
Bourdain also talks about the isolation of his career and status, saying “I feel kind of like a freak and I feel very isolated. I communicate for a living, but I’m terrible at communicating with people I care about.”
The public eye can often seem glamorous, and fame or fortune seem like they may be able to fix the pains or struggles of depression, anxiety, or loneliness. However, as both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain reveal, all the success in the world cannot defeat mental illness. The only way to truly prevent suicidal thoughts or depression is with professional care.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for 24-hour support. You can also call Brookhaven at 888-298-HOPE (4673) to discuss treatment options or find answers to any questions you may have.