BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — Many are looking for answers after the deaths of television host Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade.
The idea that people who seemed to live such joyful and happy lives would kill themselves is a tragic reminder of the symptoms of suicide that may go undetected.
Bourdain — a writer, chef, host of CNN’s “Parts Unknown” — traveled from pleasure to pleasure. The last image of him in the public eye showed him enjoying a delicious meal. So why would he or Spade, a celebrated designer, decide life was not worth living?
“Any time this happens, it is caused by an illness, a malfunction in our natural way of living — which is the pursuit of happiness for all of us — we lose that drive,” said MedStar Health Chief Psychiatrist Dr. Elias Shaya.
While Spade’s husband says she “was actively seeking help for depression and anxiety over the last 5 years” and Bourdain was candid about his substance abuse history, Dr. Shaya says in the very moment someone ends their life, that person is suffering from a disease as dangerous as cancer or diabetes.
“The perception of the joy of life is lost. The drive to live is lost and that is an automated drive. We’re always driven to survive,” Dr. Shaya said.
Bourdain, the celebrity chef and citizen of the world who inspired millions to share his delight in food and the bonds it created, was found dead in his hotel room Friday in France while working on his CNN series on culinary traditions.
Spade, who formed the company Kate Spade New York with Andy Spade in the early 1990s, was found dead in her Manhattan apartment Tuesday.
“When you’re suicidal, you’re not thinking about anybody else and it’s not because you’re selfish, it’s because you’re not well,” said writer Dory Ol, who attempted suicide a number of times.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports half of the country has seen a 30 percent increase in recent years.
Dr. Shaya says, in his experience, the vast majority who attempt suicide and fail are glad they did and regret the attempt.
“It’s a malfunctioning, it’s a disease and most importantly, it is treatable. If we have the opportunity to treat it, we can make it better,” Dr. Shaya said.
Dr. Shaya says if are going through difficult times, seek help from any doctor with whom you have a relationship with or reach out to family or friends.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 or reach out to a local crisis center.