Why Anthony Bourdain’s Death Is a Big Deal

Why Anthony Bourdain’s Death Is a Big Deal

Op-Ed: Anthony Bourdain’s death has us asking the wrong questions about suicide contagion


Oct 9, 2018 at 6:30 AM

My condolences to his family. I hope Anthony Bourdain found peace that he didn’t know he was seeking in his final moments. And, hopefully, the world will have some answers as to why there’s a spike in the number of American suicides in 2019, and why we aren’t talking about it.

The number of suicides in the United States hit an all-time high in 2019, with 38,942 people taking their lives. The number of reported suicides jumped by 24 percent from 2018 to 2019, up from 5,974 in 2018 to 6,547 in 2019, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Sixty-one percent of those who committed suicide reported feeling depressed, the highest percentage recorded in the last five years, according to the CDC. While we’re all still grieving the death of this great chef, we are left to ask the wrong questions and to speculate as to what may have driven the man to suicide.

The first step to finding out answers is taking a hard look at what suicide looks like for those who commit it. When you consider suicide, it’s important to keep this definition in mind. A suicide is “the act of ending one’s life by means of poison or overdose, hanging, suffocation or violent self-injury.” And, “The term ‘suicide’ in the sense of dying by means of self-inflicted injury is an obsolete term.” [1]

A recent study conducted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Medical Association provides some insight into this phenomenon. In it, researchers looked at the data for the years 2000-2015, which are the years where the numbers of suicides went up the most. They found

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