By Sylvie Griffiths:
When a celebrity commits suicide, the topic of mental illness is finally featured globally in the press. Last week, with the deaths of both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I had seen more in the news about mental illness than I do all year. As a person who is diagnosed with mental illness, I am optimistic when psychological health is featured in the news; knowledge is power.
I saw Anthony Bourdain locally when he was doing a book tour a few years ago. My husband, who is in the restaurant business, idolized the self- made chef, author, and tv personality. I enjoyed Bourdain’s honesty about his struggles with addiction and depression in addition to his culinary talents. He was joined by fellow chef and best friend, Eric Ripert. The chefs were entertaining, insightful, and shared palpable respect and love.
It is sad that in our culture we fixate on celebrities, but I am guilty of reading entertainment news just like many other Americans. When I heard Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide and that Eric Ripert had found him, it took my breath away. Several years ago, I lost a childhood friend to depression; our other mutual friend discovered her body after two days of being unable to reach her by telephone. That friend who found her never recovered from the trauma.
How could someone leave their child behind? Why would someone rich and famous want to die? Suicide seems selfish. These are the frequent comments I have noted when reading about these deaths. My anxiety and depression cripple me some days. Many times, I have made excuses for not attending events or leaving the house due to my sad days; But if I had a medical condition, like diabetes or emphysema, I would feel more comfortable saying what was permitting me from socializing.
As I learned within my undergraduate degree, many people who are planning to end their lives become active, excited, and happy by all accounts. These troubled individuals are glad to stop their pain. This is the gut-wrenching reality of mental illness; people suffer in silence and the shadows. The stigma of mental illness is still prevalent in 2018. It is time to show love to all, even if we do not experience mental illness. I guarantee you know someone who could use the support.
I am heartbroken that anyone would choose to end their own; however, I understand the pain that accompanies being a victim of your brain. What we can learn from these losses is that any person can be struggling with mental illness. The press coverage, although embellished at times, is drawing attention to suicide, and the reality that anyone can lose the battle against depression. So many of us struggle in secret already.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.
About Sylvie Griffiths:
Sylvie is a happily married mother of four who enjoys writing, people and chocolate.
She is an Evaluation Associate and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Healthcare-Adult Community Concentration, from the University of South Florida. She holds more than ten years of experience in performance assessment and behavioral health services and is currently enrolled as an MBA student at Springfield College, School of Professional and Continuing Studies.