Last night celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain killed himself.
Three days ago fashion designer Kate Spade killed herself.
These celebrity suicides cause us to recall Robin Williams suicide four years ago.
Celebrity suicides seem to hit us–and certainly make headlines–far more than the “other” 50,000 suicides that happen in America every year.
We seem shocked. “They had it all–fame, fortune, success, family–and yet…”
There is research that suggests entrepreneurs suffer from depression at far higher rates than the average population. I would bet that depression runs higher among ALL highly successful people. The drive and risk-taking and mania (which often lead to success) are ways to distract and to mask. You don’t want to sit still for too long with your own self.
So we try to wash away the chronic ache with busyness, with pursuit, with food and alcohol, with trophy wives and mansions, with achievement.
But of course, it can’t be washed away.
The CDC says death by suicide in America has risen 25% since 1999.
In the wake of celebrity suicides many promote the number of a suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255 available 24 hours a day). We urge people to get help.
All of this is good advice. For mental health I’m pro-therapy, pro-drugs, and also hope people try things like exercise, gratitude and meditation which some studies show can be as effective.
But my worry is that people are getting help, but give up anyway. Kate Spade’s estranged sister initially said Spade had been depressed for years and never sought help. Spade’s husband said she was actively in treatment.
I believe there is often (usually?) a genetic component to depression, and I also think there is a societal component. We have to wonder, why is the rate of suicide in Brazil half that of US. And the rate of suicide in the US half that of Japan?
What is it that is spiking the suicide rate in the US to it’s highest levels in 30 years?
Suicide is a complicated issue and I hope everyone who needs help gets it. I also hope we can figure out why at a societal level so many feel disconnected, feel the need for external validation, feel the future is without hope.