The suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain rattled me. I don’t own a Kate Spade bag and I’ve never watched Bourdain’s show, although I did purchase Kitchen Confidential after years of hearing about how brave and bold it is. But I didn’t have to be a fan to understand the importance of these special artists to so many people. Robin Williams’ suicide almost four years ago cut me to the core. When it was revealed that he had a form of dementia called Lewy Body Disease, it became a little easier to understand, if not accept. Frankly, I don’t know that I’d want to stick around either, knowing what was ahead, and I’ve said as much. He was already forgetting his lines and causing colleagues to wonder what was wrong with him. That doesn’t make it okay, but I can empathize with the way pride could become a prime factor, especially for a man who built a career on flashes of impulsive brilliance.
An otherwise healthy person who finds no way out of mental torture except to take their own life – despite a loving family, children, responsibilities – that’s tough to swallow. We can never really know what goes on in the mind of another. Dark thoughts can dominate despite a smiling face. Clever people hide their true intentions, continuing to make plans they know they’ll never keep. Or they act so spontaneously, as it appears was the case with Bourdain, that a camera crew was set up and waiting for him at a French bakery while his friend was discovering his body in his hotel room.
Everyone needs to know that thinking about one’s own suicide is a symptom of a problem. It’s not “normal”. Normal is enjoying this life and involving oneself in it. Making plans or fantasizing about checking out of life, is a warning sign. Mental illness is like a sprain in the brain. The sufferer is no more responsible for it than they are for a sore foot or neck. Depression doesn’t care how much money or success a person has. In fact, feelings of unworthiness can actually increase along with public adulation. The rest of us have to get over thinking that money equals happiness. Money equals having money. Period.
My hope is that anyone else who’s feeling tortured by life will find the strength to tell someone, to drown out the inner voices that tell them they’ll be judged or thought weak. Those voices are part of the illness. They’re wrong. And they can be silenced.
Help is available toll-free 1-833-456-4566
In London, the 24-hour walk-in mental health crisis centre is located at 648 Huron St.
Let’s not lose another life, needlessly, to a temporary way of thinking.