Anthony Bourdain, Suicide and the Love of God
I heard the news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide Friday morning on my drive to work. Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France. He was 61.
I’m overwhelmed with sadness for his loss and for the loss of fashion designer Kate Spade earlier this week. The words that come to mind are senseless and utterly unnecessary. I may not know their specific struggle, but I know mine.
I Struggle Too
As I’ve written before, I struggle with depression. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed. Some days I’m fine. It’s been a long time since I had suicidal thoughts or ideation. I thank God for that. He has allowed modern medicine to progress to the point that many illnesses can be controlled and people can live happy and fulfilled lives.
And I have so many friends and loved ones who care about me. When I’m not feeling well I can pick up the phone and call any one of them. I’m one of the blessed ones.
But some struggle alone. Especially celebrities whose very livelihood depends on keeping up their image. Depression is not an image most celebrities want to portray. Should a celebrity’s depression become public, they may not get the next gig. Or they could lose fans. Perhaps they feel that people would look at them like they’re crazy. There is a stigma attached to mental illness that should not be — but is.
Suicide is Not the Answer
I can tell you from my own life, suicide is not the answer. As the saying goes, “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Life will get better.
Sometimes medication is necessary. And that’s okay. Sometimes bodies don’t work perfectly. If I had a heart problem, I’d take medicine without a second thought. The brain is a part of the body. So if the brain needs medicine to function properly, by all means take it.
Although I struggle with depression, I know that God loves me endlessly. He tells me that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). He “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Even better, He “saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). Even “the very hairs of [my] head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:30).
God has an incredible plan for my life. If I chose suicide, I’d rob myself of that plan. I’d rob myself of all that He has in store for me.
Sometimes it seems there’s no way out of a situation. Sometimes all those biblical promises sound empty. Like they may be meant for someone else, but they’re not meant for you.
But there is an answer: Jesus. He alone can take me from the lowest lows to the highest highs. And He has. When I was at my lowest point — when depression overwhelmed me as my marriage failed — I cried out to Him. He comforted me and stayed with me. As I leaned into His love, I felt the peace that passes all understanding.
Now I know to turn to Jesus the moment my thoughts go dark. He still holds me and loves me endlessly. I still feel Him surrounding me. I lean into His Word and it comforts me.
Even during my darkest times, I know there is help. Jesus says He will never leave me (Hebrews 13:5). He says He will supply all my needs (Phil. 4:19). He says I can do all things through Him (Phil 4:13). He is the answer, not suicide.
There is Help
If you need immediate help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You are valuable. You are wanted and you are loved.
Those who struggle with depression need friends and family. They should surround themselves with people who love and care for them, those who will rally around during their time of need. Those who will give them a different perspective on life. Someone they trust.
Those who do not suffer from depression don’t always know what to do. They can be sensitive to their friend’s struggle. They can be there. They can check up on their hurting friend. They can provide that alternative perspective on life as so many have done for me. I always remember the biblical saying, “and it came to pass.” It always will.