In the wake of chef Anthony Bourdain‘s apparent suicide, many are mourning the loss of one of our most progressive and inspiring cultural icons. However, there are also plenty of people who are using the tragedy to push their own agendas.
The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue penned an essay on what he feels could have prevented Bourdain’s suicide — and unsurprisingly, the supposed answer was “religion.”
Donohue wrote that if Bourdain had been more religious, he would not have contemplated suicide:
If Anthony Bourdain had been a religious man, would he have killed himself? Probably not…
Bourdain was raised by his Catholic father and Jewish mother, though neither of them saw fit to raise him in any religion. In 2011, he said his views on religion were similar to those expressed by Christopher Hitchens, the British atheist. This is why the atheist organization, Freedom From Religion Foundation, was so proud of him.
As I have recounted in my book, The Catholic Advantage: How Health, Happiness, and Heaven Await the Faithful, there is an inverse relationship between religiosity and suicide: those who are regular churchgoers have a much lower rate of suicide than atheists like Bourdain.
Bourdain was, historically, an atheist.
“I’m instinctively hostile to any kind of devotion,” he once said. “Certainty is my enemy. I’m all about doubt, questioning oneself and the nature of reality constantly.”
Donohue’s explanation is a highly insensitive response to an individual’s mental health issues, and it’s baffling that anyone would jump at the chance to “blame” an individual for their own passing.
The Center for Disease Control recently published statistics which state that suicide rates have increased over 30% in 25 different states between 1999 and 2016. In addition to mental health issues, the CDC states that “relationship, substance use, health, and job or financial problems are among the other circumstances contributing to suicide.”
Interestingly, religion (or lack thereof) was not attributed as a cause of suicide.
The Catholic League aren’t the only ones reacting with insensitivity in the face of Bourdain’s death. Freelance writer David Leavitt called Bourdain a “gaping, steaming assh*le” for taking his own life.
The insult was in response to Bourdain calling Leavitt a “gaping, steaming assh*le” last year after the writer made crude jokes about the fatal bombings at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. (Leavitt had tweeted, “The last time I listened to Ariana Grande I almost died too.”)
Obviously, no one was sympathetic to Leavitt’s sociopathic and desperately narcissistic response to Bourdain’s passing.
Bottom line: Anthony Bourdain’s suicide is not about any of you, and attempting to divert attention to yourself by utilizing the tragedy is despicable. Let the man rest in peace, and spout your terrible opinions without invoking his name, please.