Anthony Bourdain wasn’t my thing at all. I have heard his name and seen his face on TV, but I put everything food-related in the reality show category, which is not very appealing to me. Not that I’m judgmental or anything. I just don’t find it interesting myself.
I was still saddened by today’s news of his suicide. It’s sad because I know it’s relevant on a blog that covers NLD, ASD, and ADHD. I very much disagree with people that call these diagnoses psychiatric disorders or mental illness, but there is no doubt that people with a diagnose are more vulnerable than others for developing for example depression and anxiety. That can make suicide relevant. I referred to a Swedish study a few years that found that people with autism had a much lower life expectancy than the general population (54 against 70 years, and only 40 years for people with both autism and a learning disability). Epilepsy and suicide are big factors behind this grim statistics. The study was led by neuropsychologist Tatja Hirvikoski at Karolinska Institute.
I was also saddened because this brings back memories of a girl I liked a lot. She was adopted from Korea and we grew up as neighbours. We went out a few times, but we were never close. I didn’t understand her. She was very nice to me, appeared to have a lot of friends, as well as a very optimistic view of life, but at other times she seemed quite the opposite. I always had a sense that there were some issues. I didn’t know what to do, but we went away for school and eventually started our separate families. I heard rumours some years later of an unhappy marriage, and one day I was told that she had killed herself. I wonder how long she had been feeling that life was too hard, if that’s what she felt. I have found life difficult myself at times, but she was one of the people that made it pretty interesting for a while. I liked her, but I wonder today what her beautiful smile was hiding.
I feel that Anna Spargo Ryan’s reminder on Twitter today is an important one. How do you talk to someone you want to help?
One of my reasons for writing about NLD and autism is that I want to encourage people to deal with life. Let’s face it. There is a lot of crap to deal with, but with life skills it is possible to minimize the risk. Sometimes things get too big for us, the world feels too big, and we may want to disappear. In those cases I encourage people to ask for help. The best outsiders can do is to stop attaching stigma to mental illness. Most people will actually suffer from one type of mental illness or another at least once during their lives, so it really doesn’t make much sense to punish people for this.
That’s what we do, we weaken our own society, as well as our own chances when it happens to us, or someone in our family. Think about that next time you don’t take this seriously.