By Alex Kim | News Korea
Kate Spade was a revered
fashion designer and a successful businesswoman who showed the world that a
salesperson at a department store can create a multimillion-dollar fashion
Anthony Bourdain, a celebrity
chef, a television personality, a bestselling author, traveled across the globe
exploring food, culture, and human conditions.
Both Spade and Bourdain
seemingly lived a life what many people consider a “dream life”, yet they took
their own lives in the same week.
What could be the reason(s)
behind suicides by people who seemingly “have it all”?
The answer a great number of
mental health professionals agree on is that fame and wealth do not provide
immunity against suicidal ideations. Some experts believe fame and wealth could
actually open up to a greater risk to suicide.
A renowned expert on suicide,
Professor Rory O’Connor, pinpoints one of the main causes of suicide amongst successful
individuals to “social perfectionism”.
According to O’Connor, social
perfectionists often set extremely high expectations for themselves and put
themselves under immense pressure. “These standards can be often completely
unrealistic and unsustainable,” said O’Connor, “but not only do the social
perfectionists put themselves under pressure to achieve these standards, they
also think their family and friends expect that achievement of them.”
O’Connor explained that
social perfectionists operate under the pressure which they have to present the
best version of themselves at all times, and at all costs. “They feel they must
maintain the same standards of living and the same levels of success,” said O’Connor,
“whether it is in the workplace or other parts of life, social perfectionists
base their self-esteem on these achievements.” O’Connor added that if a
social perfectionist believes that they failed to meet their own expectations, their
sense of failure persists over time and evolves into an unbearable pain. “Then,
the most catastrophic way of dealing with it is suicide.”
Whether the effect of “social
perfectionism” played a role in the recent celebrity deaths is unclear. According
to CDC, 54% of suicide victims had no recorded mental illnesses, but discussions
about suicides are often limited to victims’ mental health issues.
There is no single cause for
suicide. Suicide is a complex problem and its multifaceted cause makes it
difficult to identify potential victims.
According to American Foundation
for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicidal ideations are often the byproduct of
stressor(s) and health issues, which “creates an experience of hopelessness and
AFSP indicates a painful
event or a loss followed by a sudden, major change of behavior as the most
apparent warning sign for suicide. A person may not, however, change their
behavior and still have suicidal thoughts. “Most people who take their lives
exhibit one or more warning signs,” says AFSP, “either through what they say or
what they do.”
Risk factors and warning
signs of suicide can be found on AFSP website.