The bright smile of Kate Spade and larger-than-life personality of Anthony Bourdain both seemingly contradict what was behind them. Like Robin Williams’ constant “on” personality, Ms. Spade’s fresh sense of fashion and Mr. Bourdain’s adventurous spirit and love for food and travel apparently had a darker side that drove them each to suicide.
Before reading on, please take a moment to hug or send a loving message to someone close to you. And if you think a loved one is contemplating suicide, ask!
I realize that may sound scary, and it is. You may fear it will turn someone off or actually inspire them to act. However, according to a recent NY Times Article, “experts say the opposite is true…’It’s important to know you can’t trigger suicidal thinking just by asking about it,’ said Allen Doederlein, the executive vice president of external affairs at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. If the answer is yes, it’s crucial that you calmly ask when and how; it’s much easier to help prevent a friend from hurting herself if you know the specifics.”
“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week reported a steady, stubborn rise in the national suicide rate, up 25 percent since 1999. The rates have been climbing each year across most age and ethnic groups. Nearly 45,000 Americans killed themselves in 2016.”
I am sad for those close to the high profile people who recently died from suicide, as well as for those not making the headlines.
In my advertising days I worked closely with Andy Spade and met Kate a few times, mostly when the brand was just getting started and they were holding sample sales in the conference room. What a heady time! I ran into them a few years ago at a fundraiser, and like the old days, she was warm and bright and made me feel like the only person in the room. I admired her ability to light up a room.
To take a small step toward removing the stigma attached to mental illness and suicide, and at the risk of invading the privacy of those around me, I want to share that like many, I have been touched by suicide.
I have a dear friend who lost her husband, now almost a decade ago. His two children were young, and my friend was on the phone with him right before she discovered him hanging in their home. He was under the treatment of a doctor, but unfortunately his state of mind and the pull to die too strong.
Over the last few years there have been a number of young people in Montauk (where we live part time) who seemed to have everything to live for, but took their own lives.
There is someone in my life now who struggles to stay with us and it is both a frantic and helpless feeling indeed.
Although a difficult phenomenon to research or predict, the aforementioned NY Times article suggests these tips to help a loved one who is severely depressed.
Thankfully there are resources and services accessible for those who want them. Although our mental health system is in need of improvement, through research and trial, quality professionals are available. Find one!
Consider the truth behind the smile, whether your own, or someone else’s. Although tempting to judge or lack understanding why someone won’t “snap out of it and appreciate what they’ve got,” recognize it’s not your job to understand it. Just to be compassionate and supportive.
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com for additional resources.