- Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef known for exploring the world through food, died Friday at 61 from an apparent suicide.
- CNN reported that Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room during a trip to France to film his show, “Parts Unknown.”
- Bourdain’s death is part of a staggering trend. According to CDC data, suicide rates in the US have risen 28% in less than 20 years.
Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef and globe trotter who explored the world through cuisine, died Friday in France, CNN said.
Early reports indicated that Bourdain hanged himself in his hotel room. His death, and that of designer Kate Spade earlier this week, both come amid a larger, startling trend unfolding across the US: Since 1999, the suicide rate has risen 28%.
More people in all but one state and across every age group – from 10 to 75 years old – are dying by suicide. But Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters on Thursday that “middle-aged adults had the largest number of suicides, and a particularly high increase in rates.”
Suicide is now the fourth leading cause of death in the US for men aged 45-54, and the eighth leading cause of death for males 55-64, a group that included Bourdain.
Schuchat called this new data “disturbing.”
A precipitous rise in suicides across the US
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall in the US today, and one of only three causes of death that are rising. The other two are Alzheimer’s and drug overdoses.
Studies show that 90% of people who commit suicide experience some kind of mental illness. Psychiatrist and neurochemist John Mann, who studies the causes of depression and suicide at Columbia University, told Business Insider that many of those patients go without help in the US because they can’t afford care or don’t seek it out. That’s especially true among men, who are three and a half times more likely to commit suicide than women.
“We need to make more of an effort at getting people who aren’t good at seeking help, like men, to go and get help,” he said.
Experts also say somesuicides among middle-aged people could be tied to stresses around jobs and money. Historically, the suicide rate in adults from ages 25-64 tracks with recessions, rising when times are bad and falling when they’re better. But the causes of any suicide are always complicated and rarely due to any one factor.
The suicide rate has also jumped for teenage girls in recent decades: the number of suicides among girls ages 10 to 14 tripled since 1999. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for all US teens and young adults ages 10 to 35. Hospitalizations for suicide attempts and ideation at children’s hospitals around the country doubled in the seven years from 2008-2015, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.
“Suicide can happen to anybody,” Schuchat said. The CDC’s goal is to reduce the annual suicide rate in the US 20% by 2025.
“Help people,” she said. “Look for those warning signs in people you love and care for.”
What to do if you’re worried someone may be suicidal
For anyone who is dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, or has a loved who is struggling, it can be tough to know what to do.
The book advises that people not shy away from asking someone in their life about suicidal thoughts if they think that person may be at risk.
“Do not avoid using the word ‘suicide,'” the book says. “It is important to ask the question without dread and without expressing a negative judgment.”
The authors also suggest a few simple ways you can go about this difficult conversation.
“Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” are both fine ways to start.
Talking about suicide won’t plant the idea in a person’s mind (as some people fear), and telling someone you care and want to help is always a good idea. Mental-health trainers say one of the best things you can do for someone is express concern and willingness to help – then let them do most of the talking.
“They need the opportunity to talk about their feelings and reasons for wanting to die, and they may feel great relief at being able to do this,” the book says. “It may be helpful to talk about specific problems the person is experiencing. Discuss ways to deal with issues that seem impossible, but do not attempt to solve the problems yourself.”
Reminding someone that suicidal thoughts are common and often associated with a treatable mental disorder can also be a way to support them. Ask that person to think about some things that may have helped them in the past, like a doctor, therapist, family member, or friend. Don’t ever use guilt or threats to try to prevent a suicide.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.