Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain’s Recent Suicides Act As A Reminder To Check In With Friends

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It’s hard to believe that, just last week, the world lost both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, two incredibly influential people, due to suicide. Their deaths are hitting a lot of people hard, and part of the reason for that is because, to so many, the events were so unexpected. Who could have predicted this? Who would have thought that Kate, a woman who built her brand on bright colors, happiness, and the idea of living a carefree life, or Anthony, who was known for the way he explored the world, jumping into new cultures and new experiences with both feet, would end their lives this way?

Anthony and Kate both seemingly “had it all,” but obviously had to deal with mental illness behind the scenes that many people knew nothing about. As difficult as it is to cope with their deaths, they do serve as an important reminder to check on the people you love in your own life who may be fighting their own personal battle behind closed doors. Your friends might really need you — especially since suicide is constantly in the news this week, which can act as a trigger for depressive episodes.

Although there are certainly warning signs that someone may be suicidal (according to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, isolating themselves from family and friends, talking about being a burden on others, and giving away prized possessions can be big ones), sometimes, it can be completely unpredicted, like it was in Kate’s case. As Andy Spade mentioned in his official statement about his wife’s death to The New York Times, despite the fact that Kate had battled depression for years and was being treated by a doctor, it was still shocking to have lost her.

“We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy,” he said. “There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.”

Again, there aren’t always blatant warning signs before someone takes their own life, and that’s why it’s so important to make sure you are looking out for the people you care about in your life — all of the people, including the ones who seem like they’ve got everything under control. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, providing support to your loved ones can actually be key in preventing suicide. The site recommends using positive reinforcement even when they share their negative feelings with you, which means validating their feelings to help them feel heard. For someone who’s struggling, even silently, knowing that someone is there to listen to them without judgment is huge.

As someone who has struggled with depression since her early teen years, it’s been an uphill battle for me — and I’m not sure anyone who doesn’t know about my depression would guess that it’s something that affects me. I have a family who loves me, I am happily married to my favorite person, I get paid to write about the things that I love and I just bought my first house this year. There’s no reason I should be sad, and yet I struggle with depression and anxiety every day (and don’t worry, it’s incredibly frustrating to me to be sad when I have “no reason” to be). I manage my mental illness with medication and a psychiatrist I trust, but I still have what I call “down days,” and the people around me are a huge part of why I can survive them.

One of the first things my psychiatrist asked me during our first visit was about whether or not I had a support system. Fortunately, I was able to answer yes — my friends and my husband have always been there for me when I need them, and during my most difficult days, they have sometimes been the only things that have pulled me out of the hole I find myself in from time to time. You can be someone part of someone else’s support system, and it’s such an easy thing to do. Just be there for them. Just listen. Just ask them how they’re doing on a regular basis. You can make their load so much easier to bear, just by being a reliable and loving presence in their life.

It’s more important than ever to remember that depression doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t care about your social standing, your relationship status, or your income. No one is safe from mental illness, no matter how much money they have, how successful their career is, or how happy they might seem. Check on your friends — even the ones who seem totally okay. You never know who might need to be reminded that people love them and are there for them, and even something as small as a text message could make all the difference in the world.