Is There Anything Wrong With Oprah's Comments On Anthony Bourdain's And Kate Spade’s Suicides?

Date June 18, 2018 10:58

In the aftermath of the Kate Spade's and Anthony Bourdain's suicides, various celebrities have come out to speak about the issue especially those, who have contemplated taking their lives in the past. The deaths of these two high profile individuals bring to the fore the issue of mental health in America.


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Speaking at the premiere of new romantic drama called "Love Is ___", media mogul Oprah Winfrey weighed in on the subject while being interviewed by “Extra’s” Tanika Ray.

Every death, not just Anthony Bourdain, not just Kate Spade, not just people that who are famous and names that we know... every death is here to teach us how to live better. Every death is here to remind us of our own life and the value of it. So what will come of these deaths in sequence like this, the suicides, is a more open desire to talk about it. There are lots and lots of people who have not been forthcoming because they are ashamed still of talking about mental illness in their family and mental illness in people around them, but it is serious and it is real.

She further added that the issue of mental illness has been made worse by society and the negativity of social media. According to her, many people feel a need to “maintain a standard that cannot be held”. Consequently, they put themselves under pressure to keep up appearances and try to ignore telltale signs of mental health problems.


While Oprah’s comments were intended to draw more attention to the problem, some observers say that her statement was cringe-worthy, particularly as she inferred that the suicides provided a teaching opportunity to society.


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Sarah Schuster feels that not many people will find much comfort in the suggestion that the death of their relatives will serve as a tool for education.

Suicide doesn’t exist so we can appreciate our own lives. Suicide is not a lesson on the value of life. In fact, it is the opposite. It’s about a system and a society that failed to take care of that person when they needed our help the most.

According to Schuster, there are lessons to learn from suicide but not the way Oprah suggested. For her, research into the causes of suicide and possible ways to prevent them from happening as well as support to agencies that cater for individuals prone to suicide would be in a better place to learn.

One thing is clear though. Oprah does have a good reason for contemplating the issue of suicide, as she has had her own battles with depression in the past. As a pregnant teenager at 14, she contemplated suicide and even drank laundry detergent in a bid to terminate the pregnancy.


Oprah’s attempt at taking her life was a result of child abuse she suffered for about 5 years. She eventually lost the baby, and through the process, she found a resolve to change her perception of life. Eventually, it paid off. Oprah pursued a path on television, found the love of her life in Stedman Graham, and tries her best to stay connected with people around her as a way of keeping her own demons at bay.


As the world mourns Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, we are again reminded of how much community can contribute to the well-being of individuals.

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