Jun 11 2018

The Discomfort of Depression and Suicide

While not a comfortable thing to talk about on Monday morning – or any morning for that matter – the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain last week generated much public discussion. And, while the suicides were tragic, some of what people said and wrote were powerful and helpful to me.

I’ve talked openly about my struggles over the years with depression. I’ve been fortunate that suicidal ideation has not been a part of this for me. I’m also fortunate that I have a partner – in Amy – who I have a set of rules with if I ever start to go down that path. Basically, I feel safe, even in my worst distress, that someone is watching and is there for me, even in my darkest moments.

The stigma around depression in our society continues to be a huge burden for people suffering from it. This is especially true for high profile and successful people. In addition to the internal loops that get created by depression, there is external judgment, as in “You are successful – what business do you have being depressed – just shake it off!” that weighs on the depressed person. And, anyone who has ever been depressed knows that when the black dog is barking at you, it’s hard to hear anyone, or anything, else.

Several people I know wrote great posts worth reading to get more context. Each post touches on a different aspect of depression, against the backdrop of the suicides, in a very personal way.

Christopher Schroeder – Anthony Bourdain and the “Impossible” Suicide

Laura Rich – Kate Spade and Depression After Business Exit

Mike Porath – The First Person I Thought of When I Heard of Anthony Bourdain’s Suicide

If you, like me, were rattled by the suicide of either Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain, I encourage you to let yourself feel the emotions you are feeling. It’s a line Amy uses with me all the time: “Brad, feel your emotions.” Don’t suppress them. Just feel them. Process them. And then reflect on what you are feeling. Any, more importantly, explore why you felt them.

It’s probably uncomfortable. But it’s part of being human. And, while tragic, we can learn from it to help ourselves, and help others.

It’s a sunny morning in Toronto, so it’s time for a run. That always helps me clear my mind.


Also published on Medium.