Anthony Bourdain’s “I Don’t Believe in God”

Op-Ed: Anthony Bourdain’s death has us asking the wrong questions about suicide

Anthony Bourdain was known for his food and his travel. He was a foodie. He was a man of many passions but he did not appear ever to have been a man of his words.

In a New Yorker column on the death of his mentor, Anthony Bourdain, I quoted his opening salvo, spoken to the media this morning:

“I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in anything. I believe in my life, my wife, my daughter, my friends.”

Then of course, as was his habit, he doubled down with the punchline: “Not believing in God is not an option. I don’t want to make myself the hero of my own story. But I do know this: I choose to take my own life because I cannot live my dreams another day.”

“I know I’d be lying if I said I’m not haunted by death. It’s a constant, gnawing fear. I’ll never stop being haunted by death or what makes it so all-consuming. I won’t, and nothing would change that. But I take comfort in knowing I’m not the only one.”

It was a message for our times, a call for courage to put the suffering in our world, to stand up to those who seek to exploit our pain for their own profit, and to be open to the possibility, not only of life, but to the opportunity for a good life to be lived, that each of us has in our world.

But as I read that New Yorker article I began to wonder. Does eating alone, drinking alone, sleeping alone, reading alone, have less to do with suffering and death than has being alone?

Yes, suicide among men and women is down, but suicide among American men in the prime of their lives is up. According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in America from

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