Spade, Bourdain, And The Tragedy of Celebrity Suicides

The amount of celebrity suicides this year has been tragically problematic, and equally mysterious.

Eerily just days apart in June, fashion designer Kate Spade and world-renowned chef Anthony Bourdain were found dead by apparent suicide. Friends and family close to Bourdain and Spade kept emphasizing how happy and normal the two of them seemed in the moments imminent to their passing.

Which is the exact reason and reminder that we need to constantly check in with our loved ones to make sure they’re doing alright, even if everything seems dandy on the surface.

While both stars opened up about their demons to certain individuals, it’s clear that their depression ultimately won. And while civilian and celebrity battles alike both boil down the forlorn and ever-morphing, complex nature of mental illness, the exposure that famous people must confront in the face of these demons seems quite daunting.

This is the ultimate proof that no matter the fame and fortune in your life, what haunts you inside your own mind is an entire beast of its own. That’s what makes us, Bourdain, and Spade all fight the same constant wars, even though our dynamic lifestyle differences.

Many a star has opened up about how fame brought even more isolation and emptiness into their lives. The more spotlight and people cheering around them, the more flung into a helpless black hole they felt.

After the peak of their fame, one wonders if they feel the same lack of usefulness or productivity that retired athletes can sink into once they retire, hence these tragedies often occurring in midlife.

Spade’s family may be in denial – trying to convince the world that Spade was fine leading up to her suicide. But that’s one of the biggest problems around mental health stigmas – none of us are “healthy” or “normal”. We all go through ups and downs inside the deep crevices of our minds, and shouldn’t feel any shame about reaching out about it.

If one good thing comes out of these tragedies, it’ll be for more people to start reaching out when they feel depressed or in danger.  Already, suicide hotline rates spiked 25% in the days after these two deaths, and research has shown that these calls make a dramatic difference in reducing suicidal crisis and emotional distress.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, but when fame has built you up into an idea of a person more than the reality of your true self, those waters can get a little murky. Hopefully, celebrities start to understand that they have more in common with civilians than they think, and reaching out to one might make all the difference.

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