When Anthony Bourdain died by suicide three days after Kate Spade, I read social media grumblings by people insulted the rich and famous would choose to “leave it all behind,” and I was reminded we often confuse affording anything with having everything. Perhaps we believe money and fame overpowers loss and hopelessness, when in truth, hopelessness shrugs at fame, and spits in the face of wealth. Scarier still, maybe we remain imbued with belief suicide indicates weakness.

Aside from professional experience, I have had personal struggles with depression and agoraphobia. Hopelessness permeated at times, as did vague thoughts about the option of death, but I was never touched by despair that divides those who commit suicide from those who don’t.

Whether acute or chronic, hopelessness is indiscriminate in choice of victim, and celebrities whose hopelessness leads to attempted suicide are not weak or ungrateful. They have endured biological sickness that assaults thoughts the way diabetes attacks insulin production. I have yet to read about celebrities whose wealth and fame cured their diabetes.

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Though separated from Spade and Bourdain by economics, we share human capacity for emotional pain. The wealthy experience lost love and personal failure like all others. How foolish are we to suggest wealth and fame heals profound emotional pain.

While severe depression drains hope from people suffering from stress both acute and chronic, other sufferers are clueless as to the source of their pain. The unfair facts of depression are that it need not be circumstantial, and while stress serves to amplify, fortune offers no abatement.  

To assume wealth could insulate Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain from hopelessness minimizes the gravitas of mental illness, and perpetuates an awful stigma that suicide is about weakness. To believe such fallacy serves only to perpetuate passivity toward the suffering. Suicide is the only cause of death in the top ten with annual increases, and we must all do what we can to ensure passivity allows no one to fall through cracks.  

If you know anyone who even vaguely mentions suicide, stay connected, have local police conduct a wellness visit, or call your local psychiatric screening center. When crisis abates, you may also remember Nutley Family Service Bureau houses a team of therapists and a supportive admin staff ready to help any person who desires high quality psychotherapy.  

Suicidality is never cured with the purchase of a fancy car, or a bloated bank account, but support, education, and intervention are helpful first steps.


The Nutley Family Service Bureau's mission is to strengthen the emotional and social well-being of individuals and families through affordable counseling.

Through its hundred year history, the services provided by the NFSB have changed to meet the needs of the community. From 1913 through two world wars, concerns were foster care, food and other supports for families. As government agencies and programs began to meet those needs, the NFSB evolved into a professionally-staffed counseling agency for families and individuals. But its fundamental mission has remained the same – to provide strength to families under stress.

NFSB 155 Chestnut Street Nutley NJ    (973) 667-1884     http://www.nutleyfamily.org/