There are few among the readers here who might be able to say that they knew Kate Spade, the grandly brilliant purse, and fashion designer, and there are even fewer that might be able to say that they knew the travel and food preparation genius named Anthony Bourdain. There will be no more among us, or outside of this small circle, that will ever be able to say that they know them. They went away.

Anthony Bourdain died the other day, today. He, like Kate Spade days before, took his own life. I write that he killed himself today, but the other day, because it feels like today, still. Both human beings, he and Kate Spade, seemed to have so much to live for. Both were famous. The life of fame is not what most people think it is, however, but those who don’t have that blessed gift and curse don’t truly get to know about it unless they become famous, or live very closely around someone that this ‘mixed review’ event has happened to. It does not matter much how one becomes famous. When humans become famous though, they instantly lose anonymity. They cannot go to the supermarket, visit a regular restaurant, coffee shop or beach. They are constantly approached, photoed and recorded, as well as spoken about and written about. Every move, outside of a confined private area, is public. The amazing thing is that this constant series of revelations is not seen as the curse it really is by those who do not have the fame. All humans genetically seek notice. It is part of helping the species propagate. It’s not exclusive to humanity. All animal life suffers from the same benefit and curse.

Did fame kill the delightful designer Kate Spade had become or the wonderful man Bourdain came to be known as to many of us? I don’t know, and life is so complicated that it may never truly be known, but I will miss the whimsical artistry of Spade’s work, and the naked honesty and raw presentation of Bourdain productions, and his always vitally interesting opinions and expression. Many people reading this article will miss him badly. But that’s just some and not all. The writer of this article is not famous, and that position of much less notability is a healthy and objective perspective to write about the issue of suicide from. Suicide is up thirty percent (30%) in only the last ten years in developed countries across the world. Considering the wealth and relative prosperity of the United States one might be led to believe that the suicide rate here would be lower. It is not.

Part of the human condition, aside from the seeking of importance, power and fame is also a prevalent human ability to take things too seriously, to always focus and concentrate on those things that seem broke in order to fix them, and to focus on, and react badly to, negative criticism more than celebrating compliments.  Most people are not famous who leave this life by their own hand. The over-riding cause for suicide, as indicated by psychologists and psychiatrists, is depression, but that diagnosis might better be termed mental weakness, and that weakness can be very temporary. Suicide is permanent. The temporary causes for falling into such a weak state might include, finances, relationships, legal or criminal problems or all of those. If you are reading this article and considering suicide, even if it’s the more diluted “I really just don’t want to be alive anymore,” kind of explanation, then remember that you may well be considering a permanent solution to a very temporary problem.

Call 1-800-273-8255. A lifeline counselor will come on the line after a short hold. That counselor will have been selected to be close by where your phone is registered (area code). Be careful when you call because you might get something you didn’t bargain for. If you just want to talk then don’t reveal your location (call from a cell phone). The counselor, any counselor, has the right and obligation to call the nearby police and fire department if you are considered to be “unable to care for the safety of yourself or others around you.” If you are using a cell phone and want complete anonymity then you should consider moving when you are talking. If you are counseling a friend about the potential of suicide then blatantly ask that friend or loved one if there’s a plan. If there is a plan, attempt to remove whatever might be used to implement such a plan, like a gun or a knife or drugs. And then try to elicit a commitment from them that they will not act on any plan within a set time period, in writing if at all possible. Then seek other support.

The title of this article is taken from the song of that name. The first part of that lyric set to melody is: “If you go away, on this summer day, then you might as well take the sun away, all the birds that flew, in the summer sky, when our love was new, and our hearts were high…”

Don’t go away.

Stay, and let your friends, family, tribe, village, town, and even strangers make your day…a day like no day has been…or will be again…

If you stay…do not go away.   

~ James Strauss


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