q

'His depression won': Rose McGowan says Anthony's Bourdain's suicide was not his girlfriend's fault

In a powerful open letter, the actress says stigma around mental health is to blame.

In a powerful open letter, the actress says stigma around mental health is to blame.

Chef Anthony Bourdain and actress Asia Argento at the 2018 Women In The World Summit at Lincoln Center on April 12, 2018 in New York. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

As tributes continue to pour in for celebrity chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, the question filling social media feeds continues to be: "Why did he do it, when he seemed to have it all?"

Now actress Rose McGowan has released a powerful letter asking people to stop looking toward his girlfriend, Italian actress Asia Argento, for someone to blame.

"Sitting across from me is the remarkable human and brave survivor, Asia Argento, who has been through more than most could stand, and yet stand she does. She stood up to her monster rapist," writes McGowan, referring to Argento's allegation that she had been sexually assaulted by high-profile producer Harvey Weinstein, "and now she has to stand up to yet another monster, suicide. The suicide of her beloved lover and ally, Anthony Bourdain."

Italian actress Asia Argento and US singer and actress Rose McGowan, who both accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, took part in a march organized by 'Non Una Di Meno' (Me Too) movement on March 8, 2018 as part of the International Women's Day in Rome. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

McGowan says she was asked to write the letter, presumably by Argento, and goes on to say that when someone we love dies by suicide, it hurts, and it's natural for people to want to lash out and blame. "You must not sink to that level. Suicide is a horrible choice, but it is that person's choice," she says.

Shortly after Bourdain's death, celebrity website TMZ reported that Argento had been photographed in Italy holding hands with a photographer, and gossip columnists began asking if relationship problems were to blame for Bourdain's suicide.

McGowan writes that when the pair met, it was instant chemistry, and that "he was her rock during the hardships of the last year" — but that Bourdain was open about his demons, and told a mutual friend that "he's never met anyone who wanted to die more than him."

"He put down his armor, and that was very much his choice. His decision, not hers. His depression won," she writes, adding that the pair's relationship was an open one.

"Anthony and Asia had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony. Was. Such a terrible word to write. I've heard from many that the past two years they were together were some of his happiest and that should give us all solace."

McGowan goes on to say that Bourdain was 61, the same age as her father when he died, and that her father also suffered from depression. Both were from the generation when men are supposed to "pull up their bootstraps and move on," she adds, and not ask for help.

"I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor's advice. And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt. Do NOT do the sexist thing and burn a woman on the pyre of misplaced blame. Anthony's internal war was his war, but now she's been left on the battlefield to take the bullets. It is in no way fair or acceptable to blame her or anyone else, not even Anthony," she writes.

There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting. We must do more and be better. Anthony, our friend, would want it that way.- Rose McGowan

"We are asking you to be better, to look deeper, to read and learn about mental illness, suicide and depression before you make it worse for survivors by judging that which we do not understand, that which can never fully be understood. Sometimes we are stuck in the unknowable, and that is where we are now, a massive wave of darkness that threatens to swallow everyone in its wake."

McGowan then explains that Argento is back at work, despite the hardships she has faced. "As I watch Asia do her job on set today, I see a pillar of strength who continues to work to put food on her children's table. I see Elizabeth Taylor carrying on filming Cat on a Hot Tin Roof despite her love, her husband, dying in a plane crash. I see all of us who have carried on," she continues, before asking people to blame stigmas around mental illness — not Argento — for his death.

"Please join me in sending healing energy to Anthony on his journey, and to all who've been left behind to journey on without him. There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting.
 
"We must do more and be better. Anthony, our friend, would want it that way."

Read the letter in full here:

Dear Fellow Humans,

Sitting across from me is the remarkable human and brave survivor, Asia Argento, who has been through more than most could stand, and yet stand she does. She stood up to her monster rapist and now she has to stand up to yet another monster, suicide. The suicide of her beloved lover and ally, Anthony Bourdain. I write these truths because I have been asked to. I know so many around the world thought of Anthony Bourdain as a friend and when a friend dies, it hurts. Many of these people who lost their 'friend' are wanting to lash out and blame. You must not sink to that level. Suicide is a horrible choice, but it is that person's choice. 

When Anthony met Asia, it was instant chemistry. They laughed, they loved and he was her rock during the hardships of this last year. Anthony was open with his demons, he even wrote a book about them. In the beginning of their relationship, Anthony told a mutual friend, "He's never met anyone who wanted to die more than him." And through a lot of this last year, Asia did want the pain to stop. But here's the thing, over their time together, thankfully, she did the work to get help, so she could stay alive and live another day for her and her children. Anthony's depression didn't let him, he put down his armor, and that was very much his choice. His decision, not hers. His depression won. Anthony and Asia had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony. Was. Such a terrible word to write. I've heard from many that the past two years they were together were some of his happiest and that should give us all solace.
 
Anthony was 61, the same age my father was when he died. My father also suffered from intermittent deep depression, and like Anthony, was part of a "pull up your bootstraps and march on" generation. The a "strong man doesn't ask for help" generation. I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor's advice. And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt. Do NOT do the sexist thing and burn a woman on the pyre of misplaced blame. Anthony's internal war was his war, but now she's been left on the battlefield to take the bullets. It is in no way fair or acceptable to blame her or anyone else, not even Anthony. We are asking you to be better, to look deeper, to read and learn about mental illness, suicide and depression before you make it worse for survivors by judging that which we do not understand, that which can never fully be understood. Sometimes we are stuck in the unknowable, and that is where we are now, a massive wave of darkness that threatens to swallow everyone in its wake.

As I watch Asia do her job on set today, I see a pillar of strength who continues to work to put food on her children's table. I see Elizabeth Taylor carrying on filming Cat on a Hot Tin Roof despite her love, her husband, dying in a plane crash. I see all of us who have carried on. Please join me in sending healing energy to Anthony on his journey, and to all who've been left behind to journey on without him. There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting.
 
We must do more and be better. Anthony, our friend, would want it that way.
 
To the media and to the random commenter, Anthony would never have wanted Asia to be hurt, I'd like to think he would want us to have the collective conversation that needs to be had about depression. Blame is NOT a conversation, it is the shutting down of our collective growth. Which is where we are now. We have a choice as humans, shrink to our smaller, uglier selves, or be better and grow as only true Phoenixes can. I urge you to be that Phoenix.


With great sadness and even greater hope, I remain,
 
Rose McGowan
 
cc: Asia Argento
 
If you are considering suicide, reach out. We need you here. You matter. You exist. You count. There is help a phone call away, reach out.

 


Suicide Prevention Hotlines:

 

Argentina: +5402234930430

Australia: 131114

Austria: 017133374

Belgium: 106

Bosnia & Herzegovina: 080 05 03 05

Botswana: 3911270

Brazil: 212339191

Canada: 5147234000 (Montreal); 18662773553 (outside Montreal)

Croatia: 014833888

Denmark: +4570201201

Egypt: 7621602

Finland: 010 195 202

France: 0145394000

Germany: 08001810771

Holland: 09000767

Hong Kong: +852 2382 0000

Hungary: 116123

India: 8888817666

Ireland: +4408457909090

Israel: 1201 or 972-889-1333 from abroad

Italy: 800860022

Japan: +810352869090

Mexico: 5255102550

New Zealand: 045861048

Norway: +4781533300

Pakistan: 15 / 115 (Emergency)

Philippines: 028969191

Poland: 5270000

Russia: 0078202577577

Spain: 914590050

South Africa: 0514445691

Sweden: 46317112400

Switzerland: 143

United Kingdom: 08457909090

USA: 18002738255

For a USA Crisis Text Line, please text CONNECT to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis.

About the Author

Jennifer Van Evra

Jennifer Van Evra is a Vancouver-based journalist and digital producer for q. She can be found on Twitter @jvanevra or email jennifer.vanevra@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.