Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, host of CNN’s food-and-travel-focused “Parts Unknown” television series, killed himself in a French hotel room, CNN said on Friday, in the second high-profile suicide of a U.S. celebrity this week. He was 61.
The New York Post reported that the prosecutor of Colmar in France’s Alsace region says that Bourdain hanged himself in the bathroom of his French hotel room. Prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny told The Associated Press on Saturday that the famed chef and host of the CNN series “Parts Unknown” used the belt of his hotel bath robe to commit suicide on Friday.
Of the 61-year-old American’s death, Rocquigny said “there is no element that makes us suspect that someone came into the room at any moment.” He also said a medical expert had concluded there were no signs of violence on Bourdain’s body.
The Post also reported that Bourdain was absent at the hotel’s quaint bistro which is known for its foie gras and charcuterie.
In an interview with the New York Times, hotel restaurant waiter Maxime Voinson recalled that Bourdain was not in the restaurant for dinner, the night before he took his own life. He told the paper, “We thought it was strange.”
Eric Ripert, the renowned French chef and close friend of Bourdain also thought that the absence of the globe trotting culinary phenomenon at dinner was more than odd, according to Voinson,
The Post reported that Ripert, Bourdain and the crew of the CNN show had traveled early last week to the med¬ieval village of Kayserberg in northeastern France to film an episode on Alsatian food.
They were staying at Le Chambard, a five-star hotel in a cozy, converted 18th-century mansion.
“Mr. Bourdain knew the chef, Monsieur Nasti,” the waiter told the Times, referring to chef Oliver Nasti.
“He knew the kitchen,” the waiter recalled. “Maybe he went out and ate somewhere else, we said. But we didn’t think much of it.”
Bourdain, whose career catapulted him from cooking at New York’s top restaurants to dining in Vietnam with President Barack Obama, was found dead in a hotel room in Strasbourg, France, where he had been working on an upcoming episode of his program, CNN said in a statement.
His death comes three days after American designer Kate Spade, who built a fashion empire on her signature handbags, was found dead in her New York apartment of suicide on Tuesday.
Suicide rates rose in nearly every U.S. state from 1999 to 2016, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday. Nearly 45,000 people committed suicide in 2016, making it one of three leading causes of death that are on the rise, along with Alzheimer’s disease and drug overdoses.
Bourdain’s profile began to soar in 1999, when the New Yorker magazine published his article “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” which he developed into the 2000 book, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.”
He went on to host television programs, first on the Food Network and the Travel Channel, before joining CNN in 2013.
“His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller,” the network said in a statement. “His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much.”
Bourdain told the New Yorker in 2017 that his idea for “Parts Unknown,” which was in its 11th season, was traveling, eating and doing whatever he wanted. The show featured meals in both out-of-the-way restaurants and the homes of locals, providing what the magazine called “communion with a foreign culture so unmitigated that it feels practically intravenous.”
Bourdain’s celebrity was such that when Obama went to Hanoi, Vietnam in May 2016, he met him at a casual restaurant for a $6 meal of noodles and grilled pork.
President Donald Trump told reporters as he left the White House that Bourdain’s death was “very shocking.
“I enjoyed his show, he was quite a character,” Trump said.
Such religious groups as the Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, a professional Rabbinical Organization with a membership of 950 Orthodox Rabbis — has called on local community members of all faiths to be more proactive in taking small steps to prevent suicide. In a statement e-mailed to the media, the organization said, “Recent high-profile suicides focus national attention on the tragedy of suicide, in which one of the Almighty’s beloved creations is lost to family, friends and community. Over the past approximately 15 years, suicide rates in the U.S. have increased by nearly 30 percent. The causes of suicide are complex but this nation faces eroding protections in the form of declining local communities.”
The RAA added: “In the past, local civic groups and religious houses of worship fostered community. People knew each other on a personal basis and shared real moments of interaction. The much-discussed decline of religion and civic participation has diminished the camaraderie of daily life. Too many Americans have lost the support structure of people who care and know them, who offer hope when they are down and praise when they face criticism. Local community members must step up their efforts to assist each other, to reach out to people they do not yet know, to firm their ties with acquaintances. This is all in addition to looking for warning signs and encouraging those suffering to seek professional help.”
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Executive Vice-President of the RAA/IGUD stated, “The Almighty loves every single person. Everyone you meet on the street is created with the Divine image, imbued with countless talents and abilities. Next time you walk down the street, cheer up someone you don’t know. Try getting to know them. Encourage them to go to synagogue or another group activity. It could save their life. While mental illness requires professional assistance, a friendly smile never hurts and sometimes can make all the difference.”
RAA/Igud’s member rabbis are available to speak with anyone feeling distress. Anyone experiencing difficulty should feel free to reach out to their rabbi, as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
The National Suicide Lifeline, which provides telephone services for people experiencing suicidal thoughts, wrote on Twitter: “Please know you are never alone, no matter how dark or lonely things may seem. If you’re struggling, reach out.”
Suicide rates surged among people aged 45 to 64, according to the CDC report. The center recommended a broad approach to prevention, including boosting economic support by states, supporting family and friends after a suicide, and identifying and supporting those at risk. (NYP & Washington Free Beacon)