Suicide Will Not End the Pain, and Here’s Why.
As mortals, many of us are trained to subscribe to this idea that suicide is the ultimate soothing. The final rest. The grand escape. Saying of the famous ones who chose to leave us, “They are in a better place,” we comfort ourselves. But are they really? News reports offer sentiments—most phony but perhaps some sincere—along with confusion and disbelief. You hear quips like, “How sad. They had it all.”
Did they have it all?
As I sit here, my stomach feels empty, yet my mind is far from blank. With a pounding inside, I digest that Anthony Bourdain has taken his life. Last week it was Kate Spade, now Chef? It can’t be true. But that’s what the news reports say.
The internal pounding and pain in my belly comes from my own life-long battle with depression, isolation and apathy. It’s deep enough that I have thought of suicide often, as an exit plan, in case gets things too unbearable. My own mother once attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of pills in the upstairs of our home while my brother and I were downstairs watching an episode of Duck Tales. I was 11 years old at the time. After learning of Bourdain having allegedly succeeded at doing it, my mind returned to that day.
Bourdain and Spade’s suicides are bundled with other famous people who have ended their lives recently: Avicii, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, and so on. This poses a deep conflict to our cherished beliefs—the ones we cling to that tell us money, fame and success will keep us safe. That those things will bring us happiness. That they will fix us.
The Bourdain loss rang most close to home for me. Although, in recent years, I gained some success as the role of the celebrity manicurist, polishing the hands of the most famous people in Hollywood—from Lady Gaga to Mary J. Blige, and being a cast member on the popular reality show LA Hair, I worked as a sous chef before any of that. Having attended culinary school immediately after high school, the kitchen culture and inner workings of the chef heart and mind became second nature to me (usually while wearing an outfit that caused me to resemble the Pillsbury Doughgirl and smelling like onions). So I know Bourdain’s world well.
Upon seeing his face alongside Kate Spade’s, split on the screen with the suicide hotline number, I was bewildered. I started to panic as I ingested this news, thinking, Wow, Chef has killed himself. Did he really? If so, maybe I am not safe.
Bourdain once said, “Maybe that’s enlightenment enough, to know there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity.”
Those words haunt me. I listen to the news. A reporter says of Bourdain, “I pray for his soul.”
I think about his suffering soul. His body, once filled with delicacies from every culture and every crevice of the world, is gone. But I believe his soul remained. His best-selling books, award-winning reality shows, status, memories and money did not go with him.
Bourdain’s book, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” was a delectable treat I devoured in just one sitting. It verified so vividly and clearly the life of a chef. Every character he wrote about I could relate to from working with similar rascals.
His suicide stirs me because here is a guy whose career resembled my career goals. Having had my own suicidal fantasies to end it all, to rest easy, with visions of my theatrical note drawn largely on a wall as my final painting, I wonder: If his achievements could not fill the emptiness, will mine? Polishing and clipping the toenails of Hollywood’s elite has taken me far. I’ve been to Paris Fashion Week and set a Guinness World Record. I am still grinding, still striving and aspire to further my television career, like Bourdain, and write a few best-selling books—all from a skilled trade. That is where the magic is; mastering a trade. Bourdain knew this, and I admire him for that.
After marinating on Bourdain, I turn my mind to the signature shoes I wear for speaking engagements, important business meetings and romantic trysts: the feminine red satin Kate Spade pumps with a classic bow. People know me for these shoes. Doling out my fashion recipe, “I like to wear $350+ shoes but try to get them when they are on sale around $125-225. Kate Spade heels are worth it. They do not hurt my feet as much as most heels do.” Now the body of the person who started that iconic brand—one I have personally enjoyed— is gone. From suicide. But not her soul. I think about what became of her soul.
Swami Gyanmitra Prem Prasad, Facilitator of Transcendation, a workshop process designed to help one gain deeper understanding about consciousness, weighs in on his thoughts about suicide, saying he believes we are “far more than this body, simply having human experiences. He believes we are a soul moving through numerous lifetimes. “Rebirths make for a journey of the soul; a gathering of karmic experiences. Suicide, much like accidental death, is most often a hindrance on the wheel of karmic evolution,” says Prasad.
In the past, my relationship with suicidal thoughts was that of a close friend. Then it faded to that of a distant cousin. Now, with a clearer understanding of what it could possibly mean, suicide is on a no-contact list; much like an old ex-lover I want nothing to do with.
My perspective on it changed when I heard the words Swami Premodaya, Founder of International Centers of Divine Awakening, spoke into a room of truth seekers in Los Angeles about five years ago. He said, “Suicide provides no relief.”
Although no human can say for sure what happens after death, ahead are some key points I hope you will take away and either digest for yourself or share with someone you know who may be entertaining the thought of suicide.
Suicide May Provide No Relief (and it Certainly Won’t For Those Who Love You)
When I first heard Premodaya speak those words, they angered me because it felt as if my fantasy of suicide was taken away. He then said, “My heart actually goes out to anyone who commits suicide, as the result they were going for will not be achieved.”
No one feels relief. Not the one who committed the act and not those left behind.
You Think Suicide Will End Your Feelings? Think Again.
I pondered the notion that, after death, one’s consciousness carries on. The body goes, the human identity goes, along with the money, clothes and jewelry, but not the emotions. So if experiencing deep despair, unbearable pain and hopelessness, once the suicide plan is executed, the breathing may end, yet those same desperate, painful feelings may remain.
Premodaya says, “The embodied human circumstance — meaning ‘in form’ — is meant to be used to grow, to develop, to change. Things are not the same in the formless state. While alive, right now, you possess the ability to learn how to control your mind and move your attention. That’s why I advocate meditation, why I say it’s absolutely necessary for everyone. Meditation hones the ability to move your attention at will; otherwise you’re the captive of your thoughts. Use this life to practice, so that you’re not captivated by anything you don’t want to be captivated by – now – or after death.”
If You Believe in Karma, You Can’t Believe in Suicide
Karma is realer than the struggle.
I interpret Premodaya as saying that the essence of one’s consciousness at the very moment of death and during life carries on. The true gift of being alive and the best use of a human life is that you can actually change your consciousness while residing in the body. That is the real-deal expression of free will. When depressed you can do things to help progress or alleviate it. You can take a bath, call a close friend, read an interesting book, curl up for a nap, eat something delicious, or just breathe deeply. You can soothe yourself through joyful experiences and even employ distractions that will be experienced as momentary relief.
While human relief and breathing is possible while utilizing the gift of being alive, in suicide, there are no such forms of relief.
You’re a Soul, Man. Remember That When You Want to Give Up.
Do you believe murder is going to land your soul in a better place? No. Then why would suicide?
When I ask Prasad why he believes society is so shocked when successful, rich and famous people who seemingly have it all commit suicide, he says, “Recent headlines provide us even further proof of karma, as it’s understood in Eastern traditions. We see undeniably that fame, money and a celebrity status does not necessarily equate to evolution or mastery of the soul. In fact, it strongly reinforces the fact that true happiness can only be attained by evolving one’s consciousness.”
I think we all need to collectively accept that fame, status and money will not and cannot save you from suicide. Evidence has proven that. In my close experience with A-list celebrities like Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige and Lady Gaga, and then being a cast member on a hit reality show for five seasons, I, too, appeared to have it all. But I didn’t feel like I did. I realized that “having it all” does not come in the form of material gain or social media attention. We no longer need to be surprised and rather focus on the delusion and constant worship of material things and status, and simply report the facts and help by asking your loved ones, “Are you okay, really? How can I help you help yourself?”
Let’s become aware, look deeper and recognize the silver lining that the successful and famous have left in an impersonal (unwritten) suicide note to us all. I believe it would read: ‘Money cannot buy you love. Success will not fulfill all your needs. Fame will not fix your wounds.’
We all deeply know this yet we keep striving, keep hoping, keep chasing our own tails. And then react with surprise when a famous one ends it all.
Bottom Line: There Is No Escape Hatch From This Life. So Live It!
The real, and most important, truth here is that we all endure pain and misfortune in our lives, whether famous and powerful or not. I certainly have, countless times over. But suffering is a choice. In every moment, we choose suffering or non-suffering. Despair or joy. Being hopeless or hopeful. You get to choose. I get to choose.
I raise a toast to Chef Bourdain and wear my red heels in honor of Kate Spade. May they rest in peace. But those are just words we living say to soothe ourselves. They may or may not be true. We have no way of knowing for sure. But, if you’re reading this, you’re still here with a human consciousness that gives you the freedom of choices. So let’s make life-affirming and life-giving ones, what do you say?