I don’t know about y’all, but the suicides of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade this week have me shook. It’s not like I didn’t know that success does not necessarily equal happiness. I see that every day. Anybody can if you look closely enough at what people leave out of their carefully curated Facebook and Instagram lives.
But there was something about the joy that these two figures inspired through their work that makes their pain even sadder… that they could be a beacon to so many, but not for themselves. Probably because it was easier that way. It is unbelievably hard to tell everybody all your pain, to lay your burdens down and let someone else help you.
I’ve always hesitated to talk about suicide on air… mainly because I came up with the standard that reporting on it encourages others to do it. There are newer guidelines on how to discuss suicide in the news and on social media so that it helps instead of hurts, but many still remain silent, which just seems to reinforce the shame.
Clearly, something needs to be done to stem the tide... suicide rates in the country are up by about 30% in about half of the states in the country in recent years. It’s past time to change it up. (click the links in this paragraph for more in depth analysis on the suicide crisis.)
I make an effort to be real while focusing on the positive… so here’s my hope going forward:
… that we talk about mental health, life’s challenges and problems and how we all deal with it – without judgment.
… that we do the work of reaching out to and showing up for the people we love in a way that really counts, truly SEE them and what they’re dealing with so we can give help or find it, without making any of that about ourselves.
… and that if we need help ourselves, we seek it out if we can, ask for it if we can and accept it when it shows up, without shame trying to clean it up or make it look good.
Get help and/or be of help. It ain’t easy, but it really is that simple.
If you need help and don’t know where to go, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).