Celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain Dies of Apparent Suicide at 61

Courtesy of the Peabody Awards/Flickr

Award-winning chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain, best known for his Parts Unknown show on CNN, passed away in the early hours of June 8. CNN confirmed the cause of death was suicide.

The chef-turned-TV host was in France working on an upcoming episode of his critically acclaimed CNN series. His close friend Eric Ripert, a French chef, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room in Kaysersberg-Vignoble on Friday morning.

Bourdain was a gifted storyteller who achieved celebrity status after publishing his 2000 best-selling book “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.” By fusing brutally honest accounts of his life and career with observations of the culinary industry, Bourdain created “a rare crossover – a book intended for professional cooks that had enormous mass appeal.”

In 2012, he joined CNN and a year later he debuted the Parts Unknown series, where he traversed the world, exploring different cuisines, analyzing the human condition and illuminating different cultures for TV viewers for nearly two decades. When he was awarded a Peabody for the show in 2013, the judges praised him for “expanding our palates and horizons in equal measure.” Bourdain’s shows took him to more than 100 countries and three networks.

His death comes only three days after fashion designer Kate Spade hung herself in an apparent suicide at her Manhattan apartment. Spade was found by her housekeeper hanging from a scarf she allegedly tied to a doorknob.

Suicide is a growing issue in the United States. Suicide rates in the country have risen by more than 25% since 1999, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And people contemplating suicide often find it difficult to get the help they need. When it comes to barriers that prevent people who are thinking about suicide from seeking help, about three-quarters of adults (74%) believe it is because they feel like nothing will help, according to a 2015 survey the Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Anxiety and Depression Associations of America, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Three in five Americans say embarrassment (65%) or lack of hope (64%) contribute to their silence.

While about two-thirds of Americans said that they would tell someone if they were experiencing suicidal thoughts, 17% said they aren’t sure who they would talk to and 13% said they would tell no one. Men are more likely to say they would tell no one.

News of Bourdain’s death shook people around the world. Chefs, celebrities, restaurants and even former President Barack Obama took to social media to mourn and remember him.


In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.