On the surface, Anthony Bourdain was a “rock,” as his girlfriend Asia Argento described in her tweet following his shocking death.
He was not just her rock, he was a boulder of inspiration for many — those he touched with his storytelling, and those he enchanted with his words.
Deep inside, however, Bourdain had, like the title of his CNN show, “parts unknown.”
He kept a world of pain no one had ever been able to delve into enough to see in full.
The American “ex-chef,” as he called himself, took his life just days after another famous name, Kate Spade, took hers in another totally unnerving event.
The deaths of these two much-admired, even well-loved, individuals shook many to the core. It made us look closer at the issue of depression or mental health. It forced us to open our eyes to those “parts unknown” (or maybe unacknowledged) in ourselves, as well as in others around us, especially those closest to us.
Bourdain, in particular, epitomized the kind of depression that is bary detected. We have been told to watch out for signs of depression in people, but certain kinds of personality are able to carry it well — far too well, until that trigger that ends it all.
Looking back, people now say they can understand the depths of his pain when they read his books, or see his last posts.
Depression and anxiety drove Kate to end her life. Bourdain admitted he battled suicidal thoughts in the past. I am sure there were signs of these in each of them, but no one would have thought it would come to this.
I once attended a talk on depression among the youth and learned that when it comes to suicide, depressed individuals don’t spend time thinking about it — they just do it. I imagine a dark cloud passing through their mind, engulfing all thoughts but that one desire to sink into the blackness.
The question now, for us, in a society marked by an inordinate number of depression and suicide cases, is: how do we deal with this so-called “silent killer?”
Melo Acuna, in a March 12, 2018 article on UCANews, says, “At least six individuals commit suicide every day in the predominantly Catholic country of more than 100 million people.”
The article also details “237 suicide cases among children aged between 10 and 14 from 2012 to 2016.”
Also, “Of 2,413 suicide cases recorded in 2016, more than 2,000 were male and the rest female, according to the Department of Health.”
Experts consider the numbers to be conservative as cases like this still tend to have a social stigma. They believe there are a number of cases that remain unreported.
Acuna’s interview yielded a number of reasons for depression and suicide tendencies.
Stress is a common trigger, he quotes Dr. Cornelio Banaag Jr., president of the Philippine Mental Health Association.
“We’re not even mentioning people with clinical depression, who are bipolar, or experience extreme mood swings,” said Banaag in the article.
Another reason for the disturbing number of depressed youth is dysfunction in the family where parents may be separated or absent for a number of reasons.
Even families with both parents together can have cases of depression when they are too busy to give time for their children.
A 2012 article in the Inquirer also cites that among the causes of depression are “low income, unemployment, medical conditions such as heart diseases and cancer, and separation from spouses.”
The same report urges, “Suicide should be seen as a public health issue and not a mere police case, said Dr. Wang Xiangdong, World Health Organization regional adviser in mental health and injury prevention.”
It is a positive development that mental health and services for mental health patients are being acted upon by current lawmakers.
This could go a long way into making Filipinos more aware of and understanding the condition, equipping better in dealing with the condition, lessening or removing the stigma and, perhaps, making it more possible for those suffering from it to open up and let themselves be helped.