It’s not often the death of a celebrity – someone I obviously didn’t know personally – has an emotional effect on me, but the recent news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide has had a strange impact on me.
For those who do not know who Bourdain was, he was the host of the CNN series Parts Unknown, a travel/food/social issues show that I watched religiously, as I did his previous show on the Travel Channel, No Reservations. I have also read his books, most notably his first, Kitchen Confidential, in which he outlines not only some behind-the-scenes perspectives of the kitchen, but also his own difficult life, including his addiction to drugs, including heroin.
To me, Bourdain was a larger than life personality, and someone I always said had the best job in the world, as he traveled around the globe, eating, drinking, and learning about the people and culture of so many countries. People opened up to him, and although Bourdain was forthcoming about the demons of his past, I wish he would have been able to open up more about the demons of his present.
This goes for anyone, famous or not, who may have feelings of depression and loneliness and may have contemplated suicide.
Truck drivers are among the highest occupations when it comes to suicide rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) truck drivers are in the Top 10 of suicide rates for all occupations, with the numbers only going up with age.
Drivers between the age of 45 and 64 have the highest rate of suicide, and those over 65 are not far behind. A 2016 article indicated that 22 out of every 100,000 truck drivers commit suicide.
Studies have shown that jobs where there is a significant amount of time spent alone, irregular hours, and unsteady employment increase suicide rates.
Other occupations that see high suicide rates include those in construction, production workers, and the highest, farmworkers and forestry workers.
Choosing a career as a truck driver is a choice people make not for glamour or fortune, but the lifestyle. It’s not an easy life to lead, and though some are attracted to the idea of being on their own on the open road, they may not realize the effect it could eventually have. Drivers are alone most of the time, work irregular hours, and most certainly face feelings of loneliness. Being away from family and friends is fine – and at times, welcome – but not to the extent drivers must endure for the sake of their jobs.
All this being said, you never know what’s in a person’s head. Like I said, Bourdain had the best job in the world. He traveled, drank and ate great food, socialized with so many, had money, fame, and a great deal of respect from the journalistic community, writers, and political world – Barack Obama reached out to Bourdain wanting to sit down and have a meal in Vietnam, something they did on his CNN show. He even had a young daughter.
This was not enough.
For someone like me who can’t comprehend how a person could get to a point where they commit suicide, there is one thing I think I understand about those who do – a person’s life is not always as it appears.
Which is why it is so important that people understand they have support and there’s help available.
In Canada, visit www.suicideprevention.ca/need-help, and in the U.S., call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
You’re not alone.
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