Chris Bourdain: suicide is 'the elephant in the damn room'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

As the world prepares to celebrate the life of critically-acclaimed chef, author and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain, his brother, Chris Bourdain, has expressed his thoughts on what his legacy should be and how it is crucial for society to speak frankly about suicide.

In an interview on NBC’s Today Show, Chris Bourdain said his brother taught people about places and cultures in a way no journalist could, showing people reverence and respect wherever he went.

"He had no preconceptions when he jumped into [a new place]. Tony [would say], 'We're going to go in here and discover things together.'”

"Some guy in the Congo who would never open up to a western journalist — he would open up to Tony. Tony showed the guy at a foot stool in Manila the same respect as Thomas Keller in Los Angeles, and treated the woman cooking in an apartment in wherever just as equally."

It was the former chef and documentarian’s brother Chris that had to tell his mother of his brother’s passing. Gladys Bourdain has since told the press that “there was never any sign that anything was wrong” with the chef,  and that he was the last person in the world she’d imagine would take his own life.

Since his brother’s death, Chris said, he has been contacted by many people wishing to share their experiences. "Suicide is more common than I ever thought,” he said.

"But nobody ever wants to talk about it. It’s the elephant in the damn room.”

 “Tony wouldn’t have wanted to be the poster boy for suicide prevention," he said, nonetheless stressing the importance of having an open, public discussion about mental health. 

Anthony Bourdain took his own life on June 9th 2018. His death came as a shock to the world and was later deemed by investigators to have been an impulsive act. Tomorrow, Bourdain Day will celebrate the chef's legacy as one of the world's most influential cooks and travel and food journalists of the 21st century. 

If you are affected by the issues raised in this article and need someone to talk to, you can seek help from The Samaritans charity on 116 123.

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 24th June 2019

Chris Bourdain: suicide is 'the elephant in the damn room'