We have once again been hit with the news of yet another tragic celebrity suicide, this time it is famed bad boy chef and media personality, Anthony Bourdain, who took his own life by hanging. A sudden wave of shock has filled America and the rest of the world that Anthony so famously traveled.
Bourdain’s death follows all-too closely on the heels of the suicides of other notable people in recent months, including Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington and of course just this week, Kate Spade, all by hanging.
These suicides are all in pattern with a national trend of increased suicides in America.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a survey Thursday showing suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30% and approximately 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016 alone.
This is alarming.
Anthony Bourdain was such a unique individual. He was an extremely successful chef and colorful storyteller. He had the job so many of us dream about—traveling around the globe, trying the most unusual cuisines and engaging in conversations with people from every walk of life. Bourdain once said of his television show, “We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions,” he said, “we tend to get some really astonishing answers.”
Unfortunately, it appears Bourdain himself did not find personal happiness, despite that fact that he won two Emmys and many other distinguished awards in both the culinary and media industries. You can’t help but wonder, how in the world could someone who has experienced every wonder of the world still want to take their own life? Doesn’t traveling the globe open up a treasure trove of insight and understanding?
Here’s the thing, from the moment we are born, we all have been on a quest. For many, it starts off as childhood dreams that in many cases turn out to be adult nightmares. It surprises us that the rich and famous live lives that are often just as miserable as the rest of the world, and sometimes, theirs are even worse. How could that be?
I think it’s because of their unique perspective—they have experienced all the riches and wonders of the world and have seen the sheer emptiness of it all. Regardless of how full your wallet or passport is, your heart can be empty, lonely and completely broken.
Consider a statement by Jack Higgins, who is one of the most successful authors alive today. His thriller novels having sold more than 250 million copies in 60 languages. When asked what he knew now that he wished he had known earlier in life, the accomplished author responded: “I wish I had known when you get to the top, there is nothing there.”
I can’t help but wonder if that’s what Bourdain discovered. He was once quoted as saying, “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” Apparently, Bourdain’s ride was not as enjoyable as he had hoped. There can be a certain pleasure in just chasing after whatever you desire. The Bible speaks of “Enjoying the pleasures of sin for a Moment.” There is that initial high that can come from that first sexual experience, or the excitement from drugs or booze, but of course we all know there are those nasty repercussions that follow. Eventually, you have to face the consequences. After the initial rush and excitement, a numb deadness kicks in. The Bible says, “She that lives for pleasure is dead while she lives.” (I Tim.5:6) If you’re looking to live for pleasure, you will find it’s one of the most unpleasing things you can ever do.
It’s been said that the “best cure for hedonism is an attempt to practice it.”
Bourdain asked people what made them happy. That’s something we all want in life because we are ‘pre-wired’ that way. Here’s the thing, though—that happiness will never be found in any accomplishment, degree, bank account, relationship status, or job title. C.S. Lewis said, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about faith. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
According to the Scriptures, happiness is never something that should be sought directly, it is always something that results from seeking something else. Apparently, Anthony Bourdain did not believe this. He searched the world high and low and still found nothing that could truly satisfy him.
He is quoted as saying, “I was raised without religion…I don’t believe in any higher power. I am hostile to any kind of devotion. Certainty is my enemy.”
I, too, was raised without religion. My mother was married and divorced seven times, and on top of that, she was a raging alcoholic. She would drink every night until she passed out. I had to grow up fast, and in some ways, I had to be a parent to my parent. That strange upbringing sent me on a search too. I was asking the questions: “What is the meaning of life? Why am I so empty? What happens after I die?”
I found the answers to those questions in an encounter with God.
I didn’t find it in religion, I found it in a relationship with Jesus. I wish I could have shared that over a meal with Anthony Bourdain. I would love to have shared my own search, and of the goodness I’ve tasted and seen in hopes that He too could have experienced this type of an abundant life.
I am sharing this message of lasting, satisfying hope with 80,000 people this Sunday at AT&T stadium, along with hundreds of thousands more via simulcast. The event is called Harvest America and if you find yourself looking for answers to some of life’s most important questions, please consider watching.
Pastor Greg Laurie serves as the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, one of the largest churches in America; hosts the nationally syndicated radio broadcast, A New Beginning; and is the founder of Harvest Crusades, a large-scale evangelistic ministry attended by more than 7.6 million people worldwide. Laurie will host Harvest America 2018 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX on June 10, 2018.
Read more at THOUGHTS ON THE TRAGIC SUICIDE OF ANTHONY BOURDAIN.