Surviving suicide loss is difficult. And in some sense, the resulting grief is open-ended. I am a mother and doctor whose two sons died by suicide associated with psychotic bipolar disorder. My ever-present sensitivity to the fierce loss of death by suicide is again touched when I hear of death by suicide. The suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade triggered in me a renewed feeling of grief. Like so many, I felt I knew Anthony Bourdain. “No Reservations” was my introduction to Bourdain. As a fellow traveler and foodie, I fell in love with his eccentric style. Later, he drove me crazy when he was drunk and had an alcohol-induced blackout during the “Sicily” episode of Parts Unknown. But, afterward, I worried about him. Now, I will miss him.
Yes, Bourdain himself fit into categories for increased suicide risk: a white man in his 60s, divorced, with a history of addiction. Although, as I live with daily, somehow the rational explanations are not entirely satisfying for the loss.
Brain illness, mental illness is the underlying factor in 90 percent of suicides. As physicians, we are fortunate to understand this intrinsic vulnerability better than most. Therefore, I believe we have a particular responsibility to help destigmatize these brain illnesses.
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