Chanel Reid, a graduate research assistant in the Gerontology Institute at Georgia State University, wrote this wonderful email to Laura Shannonhouse, Ph.D. We wanted to share it on our blog.
I first became aware of the suicide epidemic in the older adult community when a classmate and I presented the topic in Wendy Simonds‘s “Death, Dying, Loss” course this spring. Our class talked about the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. The late chef Anthony Bourdain was fascinating because he was highly successful, over 60, and in the high-risk category. I have attached our presentation for your review.
After researching his lifespan, I discovered that he experienced severe childhood traumas and coped with many substances as a youth and young adult. He publicly declared the autonomy of the option as early as 1997, staged his death on the first season of his show in 2002, and repeatedly stated how he wanted to end his life over a decade before he finally died in 2018. But after listening to several interviews and watching his various shows, I could not find anyone that asked about his emotional wellbeing. And when he mentioned his desire to die, many of his family, friends, colleagues, and associates did not have the language to assist him in his crisis.
I asked Dr. Simonds about how I could be of assistance in helping our older adults, and she introduced me to Dr. Mize, who graciously introduced me to you. Fortunately, Dr. Mize suggested the A.S.I.S.T. training I took in July with JD Dreiling. Since then, I have participated in a Q.P.R. training with the Sam Foundation and Youth/Adult Mental Health First Aid training this month.
To come full circle, I have had the opportunity to recommend the A.S.I.S.T. training in several settings. Firstly, I’ve suggested it on my social media platforms. Secondly, I am currently a moderator for a Facebook page on suicide prevention for Anthony Bourdain. Thirdly, one of his friends featured on the show recently had a loved one die by suicide this month. Lastly, I recommended the A.S.I.S.T training on that friend’s Twitter page, and he retweeted it, and now I have observed it on his platforms ever since.
I said all this to say is that you are making a difference. Your research and expertise, the grants, the creation of the Georgia State H.O.P.E. Lab, our phenomenal team and our clients all impact positive mental awareness for our older adult community.
Working on this initiative is exceptionally admirable and is never a burden! I appreciate your selection of me to participate in the lab, and I would love to be a partner in collaborating on better mental health for our older adult community in the future.
Finally, I am on the research track in the gerontology program. Could I ask for the honor of you being part of my committee so that I can complete my master’s thesis on older adult suicide prevention and intervention?
Your advice and guidance would be so welcomed. I wish you a fabulous day and week!