I gasped out loud when I saw the headline that Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide.
While I had only seen a couple of episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s show on CNN, I found it captivating: a real guy who brought food and culture together in a unique way.
Here’s an excellent, short video eulogy I saw in the Washington Post this morning. [Sorry that I can’t remove the short advertisement.]
When I was an undergraduate at San Jose State University, a very close friend from high school committed suicide. Long story short, Rod Klassen was the top high school water polo player in the nation. He was offered scholarships from a large number of prestigious universities to play water polo. During our final semester in high school, Rod learned he had Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes. One by one, the universities withdrew their scholarship offers until there were none. It was a crushing blow.
Rod attended a local junior college and played water polo there. The coach asked him to stop shooting on goal as he was making the other team and players look bad. His girlfriend, the best looking young woman in our high school, dumped him. Rod’s world had collapsed around him. Not long after, Rod ended his life.
Like Anthony Bourdain, I thought Rod was invincible. In some ways, Rod and I were polar opposites. He was the top jock and I was a top musician. We had mutual respect for our respective accomplishments. I chose to quit playing professionally so I could earn an MBA. Rod’s passion was taken from him without his consent or buy-in.
I used to think quite a bit about what signs did I miss, what mistakes had I made in not understanding Rod’s decision to end his life. I’ve asked “why” more times that you can imagine.
This past week, a psychiatrist offered the insight that someone who is committed to ending their life will do whatever it takes to conceal it from their friends and family. They don’t want to be stopped. That makes so much sense. I had no idea Rod was about to take his own life as he didn’t want me or his other close friends and family to know.
We make a big deal about the suicides of Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Robin Williams and other celebrities. Rod’s life didn’t get the same level of attention nor do the 22 U.S. military veteran suicides that occur every day. In the U.S., we lose an average of 122 each day to suicide.
I believe people who commit suicide do so out of utter despair and hopelessness about their futures.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for the U.S.
Thought for the week:
“It costs you nothing to believe in yourself but it will cost you everything if you don’t.” – Joel Brown (@IAmJoelBrown)
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