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A couple of weeks ago, American fashion designer, Kate Spade and celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, both committed suicide within days of each other.  I’m not familiar with Kate Spade–aside from my wife owning a few of her designer handbags. But when news broke Anthony Bourdain committed suicide, that hit me really hard because I was a big fan of his shows. What made me an initial fan of Bourdain was his travel and food show No Reservations (I did get into a few seasons of Parts Unknown). In each episode, he’d travel to some location internationally, and experience their local culture and cuisine.

What made his shows unique and captivating were his narrative ability to bring out the human condition of the local culture and their dishes. Boudain was considered a “rockstar” of the culinary world. He had a gift and a presence like no other host on television. His presence inspired many others to travel the world to experience other cultures, and expand their pallets, and in my opinion, sparked the trend of  “foodie” hobbyist. Despite his success, he committed suicide…and this took many by surprise. 

Increase in Suicides

Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2016, that since 1999 the rates in suicide in the United States increased 24 percent. The greatest increases occurred after 2006. In 2014, the rate for males (20.7) was more than three times that for females (5.8). The report highlighted that increases in suicide rates occurred for both males and females in all but the oldest age group (75 and over). Percent increases in rates were greatest for females aged 10-14 and for males, those aged 45-64. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. On average, there are 123 suicides per day! And each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide.

America we have a problem! Data from both CDC and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention show that men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women. This is very troubling. Unfortunately, many men do not seek help. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about six million American men suffer from depression every year. Research shows that men are far less likely than women to seek help not only for all mental-health problems, but depression in particular. If untreated, depression could lead to suicide.

From the outside, both Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain had everything our society values: fame, money, and success. But yet they made the decision to end their lives. I believe our society values the wrong things. In our ‘gotta have it now’ culture, one day your famous, the next day you’re old news. The digits in your bank account fluctuate week-in and week-out. And success never seems to last. In the end, chasing these things leaves us empty and hollow inside. We chase these things hoping they can bring value to our life, but yet, it seems to degrade our worth and harden our hearts. Today, it’s no surprise we’ve become callous and malicious towards our neighbor, rather than loving them. America, we need to wake up and change our hearts.

We need to fix our hearts on what builds our life up, not destroys it.

We need change our values towards selflessness and away from selfishness, and turn away from idolizing fame, money, and success. We need to remember we are all created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Our heart needs to be softened to love and value our neighbors more than we love or value our own self. We need to value all life, not just some. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). “Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). America we have a heart problem, and it’s time to change it before it’s too late.

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