Anthony Bourdain’s suicide is bothering me. Suicide itself is something that, thankfully, has never come close to me, but I guess because he was famous and I liked his show and manner, I felt like I knew him. It’s hard to wrap my brain around what could cause anyone to take their own life. Although, I guess for people with terminal illnesses or chronic unbearable pain, choosing the time and place of their passing is something I can support and understand. I’d want that option, even if I’m not sure I’d use it.
Otherwise they say it’s mental illness.
Tony Bourdain seemed like a man who had a good sense of self. He knew himself. He embraced his past, his failures and embarrassments, learned from them and tried to do better in the present. He didn’t seem affected by other people’s judgments or opinions, but he was a former heroin addict, so maybe the blood work will reveal that he was actually a current heroin addict. I’d accept the chemical imbalance/impairment that comes with drug addiction as- while unacceptable just the same- a reason.
But for your own physically and chemically healthy brain to convince itself to give up? I can’t fathom it. I think of all the horrors in this world; the concentration camps and human trafficking, the unbelievable hardships that are borne by millions in slums and ghettos…. How could whatever set Bourdain off compare? Or Kate Spade, Chris Cornell, or Chester Bennington? What convincing arguments were their brains selling them, that those suffering millions never hear?
I’m reminded of John Nash, the famous mathematician whose life-story was told in the book and movie “A Beautiful Mind”. He was schizophrenic and, after finally being diagnosed and accepting the diagnosis, he was somehow self-aware enough to question and evaluate the signals his brain was sending him. Someone with mental illness but a powerful brain nonetheless. Incredible.
Is it possible Bourdain was too weak or too chemically compromised to challenge the things his own brain was telling him? That, with everything he’d overcome already, the successes that had risen out of his previous failures, THIS time the obstacle was insurmountable? Did all the pain, inequality and injustice in the world at large just overwhelm the tiny speck of ineffectual humanity he felt he represented? What chronic or terminal condition did he think he had that could be best solved only by his own physical death? With all his vast experiences, the myriad kinds of people he’d met, and situations he’d been in , how could he possibly feel that he was tapped out and there was no other option to try?
I just feel disappointed right now. There is always another option. Always. Even if it doesn’t occur to you, it will occur to someone else. Just ask. Sometimes your brain acts like a weak-ass bitch. Get to know yourself and have a talk with yourself. Don’t let your own brain be a single point of failure. Challenge. Question. Ask for help.