Last week a woman who went to my church took her own life and this week designer, Kate Spade, and cultural and culinary journalist, Anthony Bourdain, hung themselves. Like you, I’m stunned and saddened, but the more I learn about suicide, I realize we shouldn’t be surprised.
According to the Center for Disease Control, each year, more people die from suicide than from car accidents. The suicide rate in America has increased 25 percent in the last 20 years.
Statistics show people who are depressed are less likely to come forward and seek help. They’re afraid of what other people will think.
Kate Spade’s sister said at one point, Kate was all packed, ready to go somewhere for help, when she changed her mind because, “What will people think?”
On the other hand, Anthony Bourdain never shied away from talking openly about his thoughts of suicide or his addiction to heroin and cocaine in his early years and his use of alcohol. In February of this year, Bourdain told People Magazine he felt “some responsibility to at least try to live” after the birth of his daughter in 2007.
I know something about depression, but I’ve never thought about suicide.
My husband, James, died unexpectedly on Christmas, 2010, and because of the family bully, I lost the rest of James’s family the same day. There are no words to describe that kind of hurt…
At the same time, my mother was in a dementia facility. Daily she asked, “How’s James?” or “Where’s James?” “Why doesn’t James come to see me?” She asked this over and over, each time I visited her. Because of her dementia, I feared if I told her the truth, she wouldn’t remember the details. What if she remembered someone died, but thought it was me? Or what if I had to explain how he died, repeatedly, every day for the rest of her life? So each time I went to see her, I made up a story. “He’s fine mom. He’s working on a new project,” or “He and his son are on a trip.” This went on for the next six years… until her death.
Even though my friends were there for me, missing your spouse and your family means you are alone. The worst kind of alone. I’m made of tough stuff, but grief and lack of family was taking it’s toll, and I didn’t want to seem needy. After all, I’m Ramborella. I can survive anything! At some point my longtime friend and trainer was worried enough about me that he called one of my oldest and dearest friends. She, in turn, called me. It was after our call that I began to see a therapist and spoke, repeatedly, with my family physician.
I promise to cover my treatment in-depth in another blog. Right now I just want everyone to know we’ve all experienced depression to varying degrees. While we may not consider suicide as an option, more and more of our friends are choosing to take their own lives.
We must open the conversation and erase the stigmas that surround depression.
What are Anthony Bourdain’s and Kate Spade’s friends and family thinking right now? Their devastation is mingled with “if only… ” If only I’d done something. If only I’d pushed him/her to open up more about their depression. If only I’d been there for them. If only I’d made them get help. The problem with “if onlys” is they’re a mobius strip of unanswered questions that will never leave you. Kate Spade’s 13-year-old daughter and Anthony Bourdain’s 11-year-old daughter will never get over their parent’s suicide. NEVER.
If you’re depressed, or your emotions run the gamut from happy one day to the depths of despair the next, or you’re self-medicating with alcohol… Tell someone! If they don’t listen to you, tell someone else. Find someone you trust and look up to and tell them how you’re feeling. ASK FOR HELP! You don’t have to live with depression. Suicide is not the answer.
If you ARE EVER FEELING DEPRESSED, ALONE, DESPONDENT, or thinking about suicide…. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).