Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade both left behind teenage daughters

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Anthony Bourdain fans were devastated Friday to learn the news of the celebrity chef’s death. Bourdain, who was 61, is believed to have died by suicide, CNN reports.

Bourdain was in France working on an upcoming episode of the CNN series Parts Unknown. He was found unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning by his close friend and fellow chef Eric Ripert.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague Anthony Bourdain,” CNN said in a statement Friday morning. “His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”

The news of Bourdain’s death comes just days after designer Kate Spade died by suicide. Both left behind teenager daughters. Bourdain’s daughter Ariane is 11; Spade’s daughter Frances is 13.

People have flooded social media with thoughts and remembrances of both celebrities and their concerns for their daughters.

Suicide is terrible and tragic, and it can have a serious impact on those who are left behind, no matter their age. But it can be especially difficult to grapple with when you’re a teenager, John Mayer, PhD, a clinical psychologist who works with suicidal teens and the author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Trauma hits teens hard, because for so many of them this is their first time coping with death let alone a suicide,” he says. Teens are often unfamiliar with mental illness, and being exposed to it in such a sudden and intense way can be incredibly stressful, Mayer says.

It’s common for teenagers to view the world as revolving around them, and that can make a suicide even more difficult to process, Alicia Clark, PsyD, author of the upcoming book Hack Your Anxiety, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “With a traumatic parent suicide, it becomes impossible not to view the situation through the lens of self-blame,” she says. Teens may even feel that they caused the suicide because they had a fight with their parent beforehand or engaged in otherwise normal teenage behavior that may have caused friction with their parent, Eugene Beresin, MD, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

The way teenagers respond to trauma like the suicide of a loved one depends on the health of their social support network, Charles R. Figley, PhD, director of the Tulane University Traumatology Institute, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “When teens are traumatized, they exhibit clear signs of distress and, if the parents are lucky, disclose the trauma to the parents,” he says. “If they do, they are asking for specific things from their parents without outright seeking it: comfort, reassurance, reminders of their family, and safety in times of crisis.” But mostly teens rely on their friends and collectively deal with trauma by talking and connecting with each other for mutual comfort, Figley notes. Still, it’s important for family members to closely monitor a teen in the wake of a suicide, Beresin adds.

Even if a teen seems to be doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances, he or she may still may need help from a mental health professional, Clark says. That’s especially true if the child has a history of depression, an anxiety disorder, a mood disorder, or substance abuse, Beresin says. “Those kids will be more vulnerable,” he says. Some children may even develop posttraumatic stress disorder, Mayer says.

While the risk of developing mental health complications in the wake of a trauma is there, Mayer warns that medicating children to help them cope with the trauma is risky. “Medications during this time can stunt the grieving process with disastrous effects on the teen in the future,” he says. “If their emotions are blunted with medication, I’ve seen too often that once the meds are taken away, the full brunt of the death/loss hits them even harder.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.