In a sobering reminder that all of the fame, money, and success in the world doesn't equal happiness, award-winning chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain was found dead of apparent suicide on Friday, June 8.
Just a few days after the shocking suicide of designer Kate Spade, CNN reported that the 61-year-old chef and host of CNN’s Parts Unknown was found dead in a France hotel room. "It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," CNN wrote in a statement. "His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much.”
Bourdain leaves behind a young daughter and girlfriend.
Bourdain first found success with his 2000 book Kitchen Confidential, a tell-all book about life in the restaurant industry and what really goes on in the kitchens — including all of the unsavory things that come along with it, including drugs, gambling, and more.
“At the age of 44, I was standing in kitchens, not knowing what it was like to go to sleep without being in mortal terror. I was in horrible, endless, irrevocable debt. I had no health insurance. I didn’t pay my taxes. I couldn’t pay my rent. It was a nightmare,” Bourdain told Biography in 2016 about his hard climb to the top. “But it's all been different for about 15 years.
He then went on to host food-focused television shows for the Food Network, the Travel Channel, and finally CNN. On the day he was found dead he was filming an episode for their show Parts Unknown.
For us, Bourdain’s death is shocking and a sad reminder that depression can affect anyone, not matter how successful and seemingly happy you are. However, Bourdain believed his death was a long time coming. The chef told Biography, “I should’ve died in my 20s. I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car – a really nice car – and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights. But there’s been nothing yet.”
While we may never know why Anthony Bourdain committed suicide, here’s what we do know about the potential triggers.
1. How did Anthony Bourdain die?
According to CNN, Bourdain’s close friend and fellow chef Eric Ripert found Bourdain dead in his hotel room in France, where they were filming for Parts Unknown. TMZ reports that the Parts Unknown host hanged himself.
2. He struggled with drug addiction
Bourdain never tried to hide his past with drug addiction. In fact, he even joked about it during a 2016 appearance during a promotional tour of one of his books. When an audience member asked about how he could get Bourdain’s job, the chef replied, “Drop out of college. Don’t concentrate. Do a lot of cocaine and heroin.”
Joking aside, he revealed to Wealth Simple that drugs were, in fact, a big part of his motivation growing up. “I was aware that I had far less money at my disposal than just about everyone I went to school with,” he explained. “My friends could afford weed and cocaine. That was certainly a motivator, maybe a bad one, but a not unimportant one: my friends could afford drugs, I could not. They would share but, of course, the thing about cocaine is that you can never have enough.”
He also admitted to using heroin until the 1980s. “Friends of mine from the ‘70s and ‘80s, they just got off five, six, maybe 10 years ago. And we’re the lucky ones. We made it out alive,” he told Biography. “There are a lot of guys that didn’t get that far. But you know, I also don’t have that many regrets either.”
3. He may have had depression
In a Parts Unknown episode that visited Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bourdain visited a psychotherapist. "Argentina has the distinction of being home to more headshrinkers per capita than anywhere else in the world," Bourdain said during the episode. “I need somebody to talk to,” he confessed.
He went on to visit a therapist and talk about his relationship with food and how it sometimes sends him into a depression. “I will find myself in an airport, for instance, and I'll order an airport hamburger. It's an insignificant thing, it's a small thing, it's a hamburger, but it's not a good one,” he explained to the therapist. “Suddenly I look at the hamburger and I find myself in a spiral of depression that can last for days."
4. He felt alone
In the Buenos Aires episode of Parts Unknown, Bourdain admitted to his therapist that he felt like “a freak,” further explaining that he felt isolated. "I communicate for a living, but I'm terrible with communicating with people I care about,” he said. “I'm good with my daughter. An eight-year-old is about my level of communication skills, so that works out. But beyond, that I'm really terrible."
5. He was self-diagnosed narcissistic
Bourdain also revealed to his Argentinian therapist that he believed the likelihood of him having Narcissistic Personality Disorder was high. "I tell stories for a living. I write books. I make television,” he said. “A reasonable person does not believe that you are so interesting that people will watch you on television. I think this is evidence of a narcissistic personality disorder to start with>”
He claimed that it’s likely that he carried this trait before earning fame — a statement that’s probably true, considering his past with drugs. According to psychologist Dr. Craig Malkin, narcissism and drug abuse often go hand-in-hand. “There's plenty of research that shows that people who have, say, narcissistic personality disorder...that they are more likely to turn to substances,” Malkin explains on his website. “If you do not trust that you can depend on people for love, for caring, connection, you're going to have to soothe yourself some other way. You can soothe yourself with narcissism, you can soothe yourself with a drug addiction.”