Bourdain, Suicide and Sadness

I was really sad when I heard the news about Anthony Bourdain.  It is the same way I felt when I heard about Robin Williams.  I never heard of Kate Spade before so it didn’t hit me as hard.  Why am I so sad?  Obviously, I am bothered that their recent suicides left young kids without a parent forever.  That being said, I didn’t know these people personally.

Bourdain had the job EVERY guy wanted.  Travel. Eat. Make money. He was also cool even if you didn’t agree with some of the things he said.

My friend said this to me:

“And he was a recovered heroin addict who’d known some dark times, though all that supposedly was behind him. Spade had been dealing with demons for five years, according to her sister and her husband. But Bourdain? Whatever it was, it’ll probably emerge in the next few days or weeks. Seems like no amount of self-awareness is enough to protect some people from making that choice.”

I guess. There’s also the fact that suicide has gone up 30% since 2018 (WSJ article on 6/8/18) and there is a massive epidemic of white, middle aged men offing themselves.

Maybe Kate Spade’s death gave Bourdain social proof to do it (he probably knew her)?

So why am I so bothered by this?  Maybe it’s because I know people in my life who are at risk and I worry about them? Maybe because we always worry about ourselves and our own thoughts.  I really don’t know.

But in the end, I am just sad.







Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  9 comments for “Bourdain, Suicide and Sadness

  1. Nicole
    June 18, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    “Maybe because we worry about ourselves and our own thoughts”. Probably a lot of us have been there and we find a way, a patient, a child, a spouse who gives us reasons to keep at it and stay in the game. There is a lot of sadness though, for all the life lost. Theirs and ours.

  2. Jason
    June 16, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I think that part of the solution is related to the need for doctor’s lounges… a need for a loving, supportive community. A place to let off some steam, to realize through sharing with others experiencing similar circumstances that you are not alone. We are all at risk of isolating ourselves. Suicide is a selfish act. I’m speculating, but I imagine that fame probably did not help these celebrities keep, develop and maintain deep connections with real people that have the capacity to understand what they are going through. Some of us will settle for just a community of online people that echo our internal views, but not actually connect with others in our daily lives. Connections that can be there for you when you are struggling just to keep your head above water and vice versa. Don’t let the hamster wheel of more regulations, more insurance mandates, increased meaningless MOC requirements, and the myriad of “required” crap that now requires your attention, money, time drive your focus away from what matters most. They succeed when we battle each other and isolate ourselves, because we fight less. When we fight less, we experience learned helplessness and then are at risk of being suicidal.
    For me, I first found this community through my local church’s mens group. Having experienced its benefits has led me to reach out to other docs in my area and form a medical interest group that is not church-related. They are both outlets for the daily grind of what has become of medicine, work frustrations, marriage struggles, and parenting adventures. I now have a “life” outside of medicine.
    This is a great community as well. I love this site because the docs on here are able to articulate so well exactly what is happening to medicine. I love Doug’s sense of humor. It heartens me to know that there are others out there that are fighting back and succeeding. We just can’t forget to connect with those offline too.

    June 9, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    Closer to home is ” Physician Suicide Letters ” available on Amazon. I am in the survivor chapter.

  4. Martha Clark, RN
    June 9, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    I think he was a brilliant writer and wish he would’ve concentrated on that instead of the ‘cooking game show’ type stuff he got involved in, etc. ‘A Chefs Tour’ and ‘Kitchen Confidential’ are great reads for anyone interested in food culture.

    When he married, I thought it wouldn’t end well. Just too many demons. Absolutely not well-suited for ‘family life’ (just speculating, don’t know these people).

    I hate that his life ended like it did and his daughter is now fatherless. This hit me like Spaulding Gray’s death. I somehow felt I knew him also through his monologues, writing. So, so sad.

    On a side note, I work with a patient population at high risk for suicide (HIV). If a patient is in crisis, it’s almost impossible to find a psychiatrist who can see patient on an emergent basis. The current medical environment is a tragedy.!

  5. Dave Mittman, PA, DFAAPA
    June 9, 2018 at 11:55 am

    This is complex. Thanks for speaking out on it.
    We have to get rid of the social stigma (worse amoung healthcare professionals) and in the general population around any mental illness.
    There is also a real problem of access. There are few psychiatrists in So. Florida to see that you wait months for an appointment. I think you would bash PAs and NPs in psych but we would be one of many needed answers.
    Agree fully with what you wrote.

  6. James C. Tinsley
    June 9, 2018 at 11:49 am

    As Physicians we have all have had patients commit suicide even after screening them. I screen every patient with any mental condition and yet on the rare occasion they say no suicidal thoughts but will go home and commit suicide. I’ve never figured out why they didn’t reach out for help or what I could have done differently. I know it’s something we all ask ourselves. My question is why is the rate higher?

    • Theresa Peet, M.D.
      June 9, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      Years ago, I had two patients attempt suicide within days of seeing them. Thankfully they both lived. During follow up appointments, I couldn’t help but ask them about the appointment prior to their attempt. Both of them told me that they were not feeling suicidal at the time of the appointment and that they didn’t try to deceive me. They claimed their mood changed drastically the next day and it was almost an implusive decision. Since then, I have run through “fire drills” with my mood disordered patients: “What to do if you feel suicidal.” I also reinforce to them that their brain is not completely trust worthy while depressed. I tell them, “The depressed brain may erroneously think suicide is the only solution … watch your thoughts until you are well … don’t let depression win … besides you being dead, I promise you that many people will suffer for years and years … call me (all my patients have my cell number), call a trusted friend/family member, call 911, show up at a ED and tell them you need help RIGHT NOW.”

      • Steve O'
        June 10, 2018 at 3:33 pm

        A significant minority of suicides have less than a ten-minute window between decision and execution. The most concerned provider has no chance to influence many attempts.

        • Kurt
          June 13, 2018 at 2:47 pm

          Very impulsive. Doug wrote of Doctor suicides in the past. “Burnout” is a euphemism for depression and one with that needs help. I venture that most of us are full of “Anger” at this system and are either going to change it or retire when able. All the while giving the one finger peace sign to the bastids that destroyed the satisfying practice of medicine.
          Angry people slog ahead until the job is done or they can bail out and move on to other things. I read an article about Vietnam POW’s and the ones who died where ones who were enternal optimists about the future and were constantly let down. They lost faith and died. The angry defiant POWs were the ones that survived……. Folks, be one of the latter and relish stomping the pager or throwing the stethoscope in the ocean.

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