Within a three-day period, the world lost two incredible cultural visionaries to suicide. The world was stunned and saddened to learn of the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Both left behind a daughter. Bourdain’s daughter, Ariane, is 11; Spade’s daughter, Frances, is 13. It goes without saying that this trauma will hit these young girls particularly hard, and our thoughts and prayers go out to them.
While it is still unclear why Bourdain and Spade took their lives (many attribute their suicides to long-fought battles with depression and anxiety), the hole they’ve left amongst their friends and family cannot be minimized. Here are just a few of the tweets sent in the wake of their deaths:
Spade and Bourdain’s death is a good reminder. Be kind to others. You don’t know what they are going through.
Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain each taking their lives in a short period of time is a bleak reminder that neither money nor fame can cure depression and is worth so very little.
Stunned and saddened by the loss of Anthony Bourdain. He brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food.
Heartbroken to hear about Kate Spade. I hope she can be remembered for her legacy of creating a world of whimsy and making simple things feel special and beautiful.
The tragic deaths of Spade and Bourdain shine a light on the alarming increase in suicide rates.
Last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on suicide in America, citing a 30% increase between 1999 and 2016. According to the study, nearly 45,000 Americans took their own lives in 2016, which was more than the number of people who died in car accidents or from an opioid overdose. In fact, suicide is now the tenth leading cause of death in America, and it is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise.
The CDC report also points to rates of increase in suicides among middle-aged adults. At 61 and 55 years old, respectively, Bourdain and Spade fall into this category, drawing attention to a disturbing trend.
What is causing this steady rise in suicides, particularly among the middle-aged population?
According to an article by Dr. Eugene Rubin in Psychology Today, the uptick in suicides of the middle age is spurred on by depression and anxiety:
It is important to realize that the vast majority of suicides (more than 90%) are associated with major psychiatric disorders. Stressors can contribute, but when they do, it is typically in the context of a concurrent psychiatric disorder. Research has clearly demonstrated that many persons who take their own lives do so during an episode of clinical depression. (“Large Increase in Suicide Rates Among 35 to 64 Year Olds,” January 8, 2014)
However, according to behavioral specialist Deborah Stone (and lead author of the CDC’s latest study on suicide), mental illness alone does not necessarily lead to suicide. “Suicide in this country really is a problem that is impacted by so many factors. It’s not just a mental health concern. There are many different circumstances and factors that contribute to suicide.”
These findings lead me to conclude there must be other factors at work contributing to this sudden and disturbing uptick in suicides.
A quick glance at our culture can shed some light on why so many adults have chosen this tragic path. Mental illness aside, our society has in many ways normalized, even romanticized, the practice of ending one’s life.
In an age where women like Brittany Maynard (the 29-year-old brain cancer victim who made headlines in 2014 for ending her own life) are heralded as heroes for choosing to take their life on their own terms; and where states like Oregon, California, and Colorado have passed Right to Die laws, the stigma once associated with suicide has been reduced. Indeed, the euthanasia movement has contributed to a subtle yet steady decline in America’s overall regard for human life.
At Human Coalition, we believe every human life holds immeasurable value, regardless of a person’s mental or physical state. God created each individual to reflect His Imago Dei. Unfortunately, laws that allow for doctor-assisted suicide reject this sacred regard for life, imposing a more utilitarian view on the human existence.At Human Coalition, we believe every human life holds immeasurable value, regardless of a person’s mental or physical state. Click To Tweet
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the ongoing slaughter of preborn children, at a rate of 3,000 lives per day, has also contributed to the devaluation of life. When videos of abortion clinic workers bartering over the body parts of aborted children barely make a blip on the media’s radar, we know we’ve crossed the line into a culture of death.
And here is where the suicide epidemic will continue to propagate until we restore a total regard for life, both born and preborn.
That’s where Human Coalition comes in. We are committed to promoting life without distinction of age, race, size, or location. In other words, we affirm life from the womb to the tomb.
At Human Coalition, we believe the health of any civilization is measured by the culture it creates and celebrates. So with a dedicated team of over 100 employees and dozens more volunteers, we reach out to hurting women and families, and provide life-affirming care.The health of any civilization is measured by the culture it creates and celebrates. Click To Tweet
Our women’s care clinics, strategically located in some of the nation’s most abortion-devastated cities, offer a safe space for children in the womb, where they can be celebrated and cared for. Our innovative Continuum of Care program provides hurting families with everything they need to embrace their pregnancy. And through our Church Engagement strategy, we are equipping churches to use their resources to advance the cause of life.
Unfortunately, we live in an era where death is promoted through false claims of “choice” and “freedom.” However, we are dedicated to turning the tide so that Life once again is honored and highly regarded.
It is my prayer that those who suffer silently in a world of depression and pain might discover their intrinsic value as God’s Imago Dei, finding meaning in their life and the strength to continue another day.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help from the National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. Just like the preborn children we work to protect, you are created in the image of God and your life matters.