Foodies, restaurant owners honor the late Anthony Bourdain

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Worldwide, more than 2,200 people kill themselves every day.

“Every 40 seconds someone commits suicide and every 41 seconds someone is left to figure it out,’’ said Karen Snyder, a Danville woman who lost both her brother and her best friend to suicide. 

Experts say suicide is an international epidemic, and there isn’t a race, age group or socio economic class that isn’t impacted.

“Everybody knows someone,” said Snyder. “It’s an epidemic. The big thing to me is it doesn’t just stem from mental illness. A lot of people who do commit suicide don’t have mental illness.” 

Twenty-seven years have passed since her brother Michael Snyder, a seemingly happy 32-year-old man, killed himself. Still, Snyder breaks down when she talks about him.

“I think about him every day,’’ she said. 

To honor her brother and all the others who have ended their lives, and to bring attention to the epidemic, Snyder has immersed herself in raising money for suicide prevention efforts and educating people about it.

A couple times a month, she sets up a table outside a downtown Danville Starbucks and sets out posters featuring her brother’s picture along with educational information about suicide. 

Rod Worth, the owner of five East Bay restaurants, including the Peasant & the Pear in downtown Danville, met Snyder at his restaurant and the two became friends. On June 25, Worth will participate in "Anthony Bourdain Day" to honor and remember the late chef, adventure travel television host and owner of Les Halles restaurant in New York. Bourdain killed himself last June. 

“I’ve been to his restaurant in New York twice and it’s just a neat little bistro,” said Worth, adding that he wanted to participate in #BourdainDay because suicide is widespread in the food and beverage industry. 

“There is a lot of suicide in the hospitality industry, it’s prevalent,” he said, adding that a combination of factors can lead workers to become depressed and hopeless

“There’s a lot of drug use, we work weird hours, we don’t get to spend holidays with our family. You have to be there when everyone else is having fun and it does wear you,’’ Worth said.

Worth continued: “Every year when the Michelin Guide comes out there’s always a few chefs who commit suicide.” The restaurant reference guide awards up to three Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments. Receiving or losing a star can have dramatic effects on the success of a restaurant.

Worth said he will be replicating food from Bourdain’s French-brasserie-style restaurant, including steak frites, French onion soup, and escargot. A percentage of the profits from the June 25 dinner will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which is the organization that Synder has been donating to since she began fundraising in her brother’s honor. 

June 25 would have been Bourdain’s 63rd birthday. On June 8, 2018, Bourdain hung himself in the shower of his hotel room while on location in France for one of his television shows.

While some restaurants will remember him with special events, Eric Ripert, the chef at Le Bernardin in New York City and a longtime friend of Bourdain, and famed chef and restaurant owner José Andrés, are asking restaurant operators and food enthusiasts to share memories and thoughts about Bourdain on social media on June 25. 

In a video posted on Twitter, Ripert explains that “We are all going to celebrate the birthday of our dear friend, the beloved Anthony Bourdain.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Natiional Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.