I’ve been struggling to come up with the words to describe how I’m feeling following the suicide of Anthony Bourdain. It’s not a dissimilar feeling to when Robin Williams took his own life. Celebrity suicides. Not so uncommon anymore, it seems. But somehow we grow to love these characters and their love of life, their passion. It actually hurts when they are gone, as though I knew them personally.
Of course, I didn’t know Bourdain, but I knew his stage presence. I loved his passion and the person he chose to show the world. And whether the stage presence is even a morsel of the person he actually was, it saddens me to know he suffered so much with his demons. May he rest in peace.
Anthony Bourdain contributed greatly to my travel itch. My husband and I would watch his shows (Parts Unknown particularly, but also No Reservations, the Layover and a few others like the Mind of a Chef, Executive Directed by Bourdain). We would watch and dream of travelling to far off places and tasting all of the interesting dishes. Some not so far off places, too, as there were many episodes set in Québec. He had a thing for Québec cuisine and culture. How do you thank someone for helping to broaden the world for you with a sense of adventure?
We eventually visited some of the places he highlighted, like Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we ate from the food truck with the lady wearing a cowboy hat.
There were even other places that were added to our bucket list of destinations that we probably wouldn’t have considered:
Puerto Rico (we recently got to see!), Columbia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Jamaica (to name just a few).
His perspective was raw and authentic. It gave us the confidence to travel without a tour guide or an all-inclusive, 5-star hotel. It showed the good and the bad of a place, and that was ok. It was all part of experiencing a place. The food looked great, but the entire experience was rich and thoughtful.
What saddens me is knowing that this man, who clearly meant so much to so many foodies and travellers, a man who had a full life, a woman he was in love with and a young daughter, still couldn’t find his happiness. Suicide is so hard because that person literally doesn’t see another way out of their sadness, or believes the world would be better off without them. It seems like the absolute darkest, loneliest and saddest ways to leave this world. I wouldn’t wish that deep sadness onto anyone.
So many people have been ending their thoughts for Anthony Bourdain mentioning suicide hotlines and that you should reach out if you need help. Of course this is true, and it seems the most natural way to end this.
Call your local suicide helpline and just talk to someone. Talking can help tremendously to relieve some of those feelings, provide hope, and just feel heard. And in the words of rapper Royce da 5’9: Check up on your strong friend. Because often it is the strong friend you don’t suspect who is suffering silently.