With fans, family and friends left devastated, and copy-cat deaths a sure thing, should celebrity suicides be excluded from the forgiveness that follows the act?
When someone dies, especially at their own hand, they leave a trail of grief in their wake. When a star such as Anthony Bourdain dies, it’s more of a comet tail whose intensity gouges a black hole in the lives of a legion of friends and fans. Some of them are angry.
“Anthony I am so mad at you,” wrote friend and MeToo activist Rose McGowan in an impassioned Twitter post after the celebrity chef’s shock suicide. It’s less anger than anguish, but in the subtext there’s an accusation often buried in the aftermath of suicide.
Could the deceased have been the deliberate author of his or her own death and, if so, can we blame them for it? And in the case of celebrity suicide, where harms are measured not just in the personal toll of bereavement but in the spike of copy-cat suicides that follows, is there any conceivable place to assign posthumous guilt?
The very short answer is no. On some estimates, more than 90% of suicides are linked to mental illness, often depression, the Svengali-like effects of which unravel perspective and stamp any decisions with the unendurable weight of pessimism. Agency is lost to a treatable illness that is an intense focus of suicide prevention efforts. Facts are sparse but some suggest Bourdain may, tragically, have been in this category.
There is, however, a harder answer, which points to a rarer class of suicide in which the actor retains rationality.
Read the full article in Cosmos magazine here