In the past week, the press has reported that both fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain have committed suicide. These twin tragedies are a piece of a larger epidemic, as America has experienced a 25% increase in suicide rate during the 21st century. This statistic is both shocking and telling and has disproportionately affected two groups: celebrities and college students.
ASU State Press: Reporting from Kate Spade’s alma mater, Parker Shea was among the earliest collegiate writers to break the devastating news.
• “Kate Spade was a fashion icon, businesswoman, mother and wife”
• Shea emphasizes “Spade’s importance to working women and her appeal to those who were looking for elegance without pretense."
Georgia Red & Black: Staff Writer Madeline Laguaite writes that Anthony Bourdain “leaves behind [a] lasting imprint on society.”
• She hopes that his death “could potentially create a space and time for a national discussion about mental health, namely depression and suicide.”
• When speaking about death, Bourdain said that he “will decidedly not be regretting missed opportunities for a good time. My regrets will be more along the lines of a sad list of people hurt, people let down, assets wasted and advantages squandered.”
Cornell Daily Sun: Peter Shipman explores why “one is inevitably pushed towards discussing the personal rather than the political” when discussing suicide.
• “Any time a suicide occurs at Cornell, it is inconvenient to the establishment which co-produced it. And instead of relating these deaths to the broader miasma that is Cornell’s shameful mental health services, surviving students are pushed by those in power to focus instead on the fixed, particular data of an individual’s life through the reading of suicide as an act without agency. In doing this, we are pushed in turn to mourn, rather than to rage”
• “More invested in saving face than in saving lives, the Cornell administration… has struggled over the years to resist the moniker of ‘suicide school’ that Cornell indubitably deserves.”
The Bottom Line:
We must recognize this consistent increase in suicides as telling of larger societal issues. While this is not an easily-solvable problem, beginning a broad discourse is the first step in moving toward eventual changes.