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Anthony Bourdain: My Uneducated Opinion About His Death

Missy is a unique writer who enjoys inviting her readers into her thoughts through her poetry and other topics of discussion.  



To begin this essay, I would like to acknowledge that this is strictly an opinion piece. It is born from my own observance and is not meant to stake a claim on what truly happened or sway other people's opinions about Mr. Bourdain and the heartbreaking way we lost this culinary icon.

A Dirty Little Secret. Was It One He Kept?

Suicide is sad. Any way it happens, it is very sorrowful. Even so, it is with much regret that I share a little ugly truth with the ones in the world who would not be aware of a dirty little secret that some people keep; some die by suicide but not on purpose.

I believe the beloved rebel of the culinary world, Anthony Bourdain, indeed, died of this little unknown practice. I do not believe he intentionally killed himself. Though, going into the realm of Russian roulette, he had to know it was a possibility. After all, it's how you play the game. You take a chance on death and the embarrassment of the secret being revealed if you fail. It is thrilling to some, but more than that, exhilarating to the people who love a struggle. I understand this man from watching him, and the fact that he said to himself that struggle is something he appreciated would make a lot of sense. Otherwise, for me, I would not understand his early departure.

Anthony Talking About Enjoying the Incompetence of Becoming a Success

Getting to the Mystery of What I Have Described: Autoerotic Asphyxiation

This must sound bonkers, yet there has been a practice going on for decades and decades. I was accidentally introduced to it when I was about 11-years-old, and my sister, who had to be around 13 at the time, and her best friend, tried this crazy thing in front of me. At that time, I had no clue what they were trying to do. Their trick to this little game involved a towel and help from one another. This, I have now come to realize, was a safer way to play the game. If you are alone, you delve deeper into the thrill of it because there will be no one there to save you, and the stakes are much higher. Let’s call this game Autoerotic asphyxiation.

Unfortunately, folks, I believe this is how Anthony Bourdain died. I don't believe he wanted to die. I believe he committed suicide by accident. It was the first thought I had when they said death by hanging, and no one could get why he would do it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m just assuming this from my own observation and knowledge of this little-known masturbation game. And, from what I understand, it can, indeed, be triggered by depression and anxiety. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the person intended death. It can be a release from the ailments without death for some people.

This is Famous Podcaster Marc Maron Talking About Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation on Conan 2012. Ironically, Bourdain Talked to Maron a Year Earlier on His Podcast

I Guess Haters Gonna Hate: I'm Just Trying to Sort This All Out

By now, I’m sure I have some haters for putting my theory out here for all to read. Nevertheless, after reading down through Mr. Bourdain’s tweets on Twitter and finding one that mentioned this game of thrones type of risk to someone, I thought; could it be this ironic that what he mentioned and sarcastically wished on someone else would happen to him? Yet, how would he know about such a game? I guess he could have innocently fallen into a situation like I did and found out about it by chance?

The Tweet Which Mentions Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation: Coincidence?

The tweet Mr. Bourdain wrote in response to the person who had made a remark about the age difference between himself and his current girlfriend; Asia Argento. However, it has since been taken down.

The tweet Mr. Bourdain wrote in response to the person who had made a remark about the age difference between himself and his current girlfriend; Asia Argento. However, it has since been taken down.

My mind kept asking the questions of did this make sense? It did in all the descriptions that his friends and colleagues told of him, along with Mr. Bourdain himself speaking regularly about his thrill-seeking lifestyle of traveling the world and enjoying "the struggle" of his favorite sport - Brazilian jiu-jitsu on a daily. His colleague at CNN, Anderson Cooper, even alluded to that fact when Tony, as they called him, was with him, he was always going to or coming from the place he practiced this sport. He loved the struggle of it!

Furthermore, Mr. Bourdain is a self-proclaimed former heroin addict. In one of his shows, “Parts Unknown,” he explained that he could remember smiling at himself in the mirror after shooting up for the first time. He wanted the thrill of that drug. So, do you still hate me for the suggestion, or is it becoming more possible that I may be correct in my assumption?

My Final Theoretical Thoughts

Finally, whatever the real reason Anthony Bourdain died this way, it doesn’t really matter much. The reality is, he is gone, and we are left to wonder why. For me, exploring through all the known facts of his life to figure out his truth helps me along the way.

As a fan, but most importantly, a person who suffers from depression on occasion since I was a small child, it is curious to look at someone like Anthony and not believe that he could have been depressed. I could envision that. However, would he be as weak as a normal, boring human like myself? NO! This man was not weak. This man was a survivor. He was not someone who, I feel, would have just given up. He was portrayed on television to be curious, empathetic, and strong in the risks he took -- to seek out the human world stretching from places like Hong Kong to West Virginia. Talking to everyone with a passion for soaking everything he was learning in -- cultures of hardship and beauty. This was who I think Anthony Bourdain was, and he wanted to live. But...that's my opinion.

Goodbye, Mr. Bourdain. We Will Never Forget You...

"I will be judged by the people who will remember me and will quickly forget me."

— Anthony Bourdain

Goodbye Mr. Bourdain. We Will Never Forget You...

"THIS song from the score from tonight’s HONG KONG @PartsUnknownCNN is gonna stay with me"

© 2018 Missy Smith

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Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on August 31, 2018:

Missy, your theory is definitely one to think about and makes sense. I voted "maybe." I do think it's possible that as an addict, trying very hard to stay clean and sober, that he may have engaged in this dangerous game to get a "hit," so to speak. It would have given him the rush he craved without a drug. Nice hub, interesting and informative.

Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on June 27, 2018:

Why should your telling me about your experiences be judging, there is a difference in judging and discerning. Your not picking up that loaded backpacker just may have been obeying your inner guide, I wasn't there to feel him not did I hear your pro nor con thoughts. Today girls especially have to be careful concerning picking up strangers, when I first began my journey there were often girls hitching but most of the time with a boy. But, like I said, should you go through a new birth morphing you will be consciously guided on what to do in any situation.

There have been time when I was passing through a town and teenagers would ask me to buy them beer or booze, I would internalize it and whatever I hear I did, a few time even bought it. Spirit doesn't see right ad wrong but it can see outcomes and what you should do in every situation, but first you have to feel the desire to always be in tuned with spirit in all situation, you must believe you have been misguided into believing in right and wrong. What it does is allows one to eliminate being scared of discarnating and going into hell's lake of fire for doing what our purpose as man is, i.e., to become educated.

Here in DC, when I first got my room, I'd be walking along a street and someone meeting me, usually girls, would cross the street until they passed me just to keep from getting close to me. Observing people's reactions to me is so funny most of the time. I've had a few experiences when spirit told me to "watch them" or "him" and, sure enough, they would attempt something I was able to avoid because of it. In New Jersey two boys watched me walking pass and one said, concerning my staff, "yes, and I bet he can stick that stick up your _ _ _." I always tell spirit how funny those things are.

Yes, there is one photo of me in the snow with my last staff, before I broke it as I was almost to enter my merging into he edge of civilization again and maybe one without it, if I remember correctly.

I'm down to 58% battery so I must see what else must do before leaving here.


Missy Smith (author) from Florida on June 26, 2018: are a very interesting person, Elijah. I do enjoy our conversations. I guess I have turned into a real pansy since I've become a mother. I have also lost a great deal of family "young" family. I think I'm just overly cautious these days, which is hard, because I'm also overly curious. lol...

I saw another closer picture of you on your site. I think I may be wrong. I think I may would pick you up for a ride and an inspirational conversation if I saw you, or if not, constantly wonder what wisdom I missed because I didn't. You do look biblical and wise,and I should apologize for my lack of trust in today's world. I promise it's not because I want to be like this.

It's funny how conversation of catching rides made me think back to a specific thing that happened not too long ago. My daughter and I, about a month ago, was taking her friend home, and along the way we passed a man with a ton of camping gear walking. I thought he looked safe, but had a conversation with my daughter about how it's sad we can't go on our instincts. It was so hot out, and I felt totally sad for him walking. However, I didn't want to take a chance on picking a stranger up. There is so much meanness in the world, and though I want to be so badly, I'm not on your level of trust yet. I will work on it though.

I do hope that you take whatever I say and know that it's not meant to judge in no way. I would hate if someone felt I was judgmental. Like I said before, I am quite a pansy ass when it comes to meeting strangers on the street. It could stem way back from my childhood, when I was so shy, and wouldn't even utter a word to no one, not even if they asked me a point blank question. I was locked up within myself for so long.

It's been a pleasure getting to know you a little bit better on here, Elijah. I almost feel like we are friends enough now that I just might start referring to you as Eli. lol... Thanks again!

Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on June 26, 2018:

I just had to laugh, Missy, at your "I probably wouldn't have even picked you up at all" as so many people I have noticed indicate. If you've noticed in my photo I have a staff under my legs, I've carried one since 1977 before the end of my first nomad year except my year In northeast Iowa and two and a half, where I transformed into this dress, NYC. It has caused one couple to back more than a mile back on the interstate's shoulder just to pick me up. They said a policeman stopped them and they said they had lost a $100 bill near me and he let them continue. What can I say?!?!

Also because of it I've had people observe me from their porches and others going in the opposite direction to take me from 20 to 80 miles just to talk with me. I believe it is the staff more than anything else that does it. Some people call the Highway Patrol and say "a man looking like Moses is walking the interstate." So it is all depends on the mind of the beholders.

In Mexico I spent 3 weeks in an Adobe home in one state and 2 weeks in a Mexico City family's home: in Canada I've spent from one weekend to a week in people's homes. (Those were before dressing as I do now.) In Mexico I've had truckers drop food out of their window to me, I go into a restaurant and when I get ready to pay someone would have already paid for it and just tons of inspirational acts by individuals and families alike. Even in the U.S. I've had people to invited me to a meal and a bath and a few times overnight stays, usually in small towns but some in cities like Dallas, TX, NYC, Flagstaff, AZ and others.

For every selfish person there is an open one throughout civilization, being "spirit directed" one will always be directed to more hospitable places and, when there's a danger, I'm directed to go off my highway for a while and back on it and continue going rather than making the intended stop I had planners. It's things like that which require our surrendering to spirit and, believe me, it will teach us to accept it's guidance over our own contemplations of what to do.

Really, this life is more interesting than I experienced when I went to Amarillo, TX on a 3 week faith mission to have an idea of what I was getting myself into. :)


Missy Smith (author) from Florida on June 25, 2018:

Wow! That sounds like quite a journey, Elijah. I have to be honest though, I do see why some would feel a little uneasy to sit along side someone that has disassociated themselves with the progressive world we live in. It's not their fault, and I'm sure you understand their apprehensions and lack of ability to see things your way. Most are so in tune with the here and now and the responsibilities they have made for themselves, that it's hard to be open minded. I try hard to be. However, again, if I was being super honest with you, and I am super honest, I probably wouldn't have even picked you up at all. The world is just too dangerous now.

The internet and social media platforms have actually been a great outlet for me to stay curious and open minded about different views and ways of life. I'm thankful for that part of progression. I do miss some types of simplicity experienced in my younger years though.

You know, back when I was a kid in the 70s, my dad would pick up travelers on the road. I remember one time he brought a hungry one home, and even let him spend the night in my sister's room. It just isn't like that anymore. It is for the best; considering all the evil we have now. I feel that even a travelers life can be in danger just as much as a Good Samaritan. The thing is, not everyone is a Good Samaritan. It's what we have to be aware of and live with.

Thanks for your response back. It's always an interesting conversation. :)

Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on June 25, 2018:

Truth is, Missy, only after one has gone through the metamorphosis called "born again" or have lived in a location where one was not on the social grid will one ever be able to live completely get off of it. I am actually back on it after 32 years as a nomad who wondered through 5 provinces of Canada, Mexico City and 11 states, Belize and 44 continental US states most of the US twice or more by walking unless someone offered me a ride (sometimes they only lasted one exit of the interstate because of what I was talking about).

For me, and according to the teachings of the one called Christ, the only way to become educated is to "objectively observe, participate to experience various outcomes, reason with them and explain our findings to others," as Anthony Bourdain was doing. What we go through is only schooling which is conditioning man-en-mass to follow tradition even to their own demise.

It took my being "born again" and after my new conception I surrendered everything I had been taught to what we call god (and it matters not by what name, I've found) and asked to be retaught by IT. If one claims a new birth that doesn't follow a morphing process similar to the natural birth they are self deceiving. So, if you want an education and believe in some deity, the thing to do is surrender every fiber of yourself to it and if it's for you it will come. It requires your surrendering, it does not force anyone beyond their heart's desire.

Missy Smith (author) from Florida on June 24, 2018:

Wow, Elijah! I guess one never thinks of people actually living off the grid like that. I had no idea. Do you find it difficult at times?

I often wonder how it would be to totally free myself from worldly possessions, and just live against the propaganda and greed we endure here. I’m not sure I could be that strong. I hate to admit that, because the fact is that I’m not at all materialistic except for wanting to keep up with current events. I do like access to the internet at the moment I need it.

You’re welcome about letting you know where to explore more about Anthony Bourdain. I think you will find him interesting for sure. :)

Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington, DC USA on June 24, 2018:

Missy, I have no TV, no radio, no internet although I use the library's WiFi for my computer up to 5 hour a day an nothing else except the essentials for maintain and preparing food and hot water so it it isn't in the local "free paper" I don get it except when online. I had heard about him even though I'm narrowly focused on what the U.S. Government is doing and with 90% being unconstitutional I seeking to eliminate the corruption. I've experienced much and seen a lots so now it is time to put it to use for We The People of the United States. Look at for my latest shot at correcting this nation.

Again, I thank you for giving me somewhere to check him out more completely when I have enough battery left on my computer to do so.

Missy Smith (author) from Florida on June 24, 2018:

You know, Sam, I don't encourage anyone to commit suicide. However, I can't, for some reason, be bothered by your thoughts of, "I just think it was his time for an exit." I recall several times through interviews and such, Mr. Bourdain saying that he had truly experienced everything anyone could want to experience in life.

I think that he was sad from being at a point in his life in which he had, in his opinion, maybe exasperated his adventures, and he was about adventure for sure. He wanted thrills. This is where I believe my theory could be true.

I believe there are some people who constantly look for a higher high, and I believe, just by listening to him talk, Mr. Bourdain was one of those types of people; when he had to give up drugs, it made it a bit harder for him to achieve. I also believe going to dangerous places was one of the ways he continued to try. I believe his obsession with Brazilian jiu-jitsu was another way, and then, my theory, just another.

Thanks for taking some time to read this piece. I appreciate the conversation. :)

Sam Shepards from Europe on June 24, 2018:

Don't know. The guy had achieved anything he wanted. Had done most things, drugs included.

If you look at the last messages and pictures from his younger girlfriend it seems his relationship was more or less over.

He had also defended her in the public forum around the weinstein scandal.

I just think it was his time for an exit. I know people will say things like, if I had his money or fame I would just do x (tavel the world, buy x, ...), but not kill myself. There are points in life, when you got most boxes checked, but still can't find your footing... Depending on where you are and where you come from, you just see one more way to go.

This course can often be changed, but sometimes not...

One thing why you could maybe be right is the hanging. I guess he could've chosen overdosing (considering his history) on something instead of hanging...

Missy Smith (author) from Florida on June 23, 2018:

Hi Elijah, I would say you just don't watch CNN probably. lol. Though most thought it very odd that the political news network would offer Mr. Bourdain his own show there, it made sense in the long run for a lot of political reasons. I would say especially in today's political discussions.

He was a chef and connoisseur, yet he had a way of relating to people he met. His show on CNN took him to many different countries and states around the world. He sat down and tried many of the cuisines with the locals, and therefore struck up conversation of a curious type that really helped the world to see these different types of people and cultures in a way we never knew before. The food was just a talking point. A very important talking point, but the outcome of information for the world was most important.

Anthony Bourdain, had a voice in this political arena today with his unique way of showing us how to be human in, what is now, a dehumanized state of authority we live in with this Trump WH.

Not only did he show us how to respect culture and all the similarities that make us all human, his current gal pal was at the forefront of the MeToo movement here in America. She was victimized by the scum Harvey Weinstein and protested often about the deplorable conditions women have had to endure to try to make it in a man's world.

He was, at the end his life, so thoughtful and empathetic to what he had witnessed, that I believe he was sad about it, but also thankful to be a voice. I don't believe he would have been so weak as to really want to take his own life. I believe there was something else that triggered whatever happened to him. Whatever it was, we have lost a truly amazing storyteller and humanitarian for the greater good.

Thanks for your input. I appreciate the chance to converse with you and the others who comment here.

Elijah A Alexander Jr from Washington DC on June 23, 2018:

Since I know very little about Anthony Bourdain (I am generally not into people who are not a part of some government or religion, the main components of today's existence, since my focus is on understanding cause and effects of existence) and have read almost nothing about him I would have to accept your observations since in reading your work you do in-depth research before revealing your view of a subject matter.

Missy Smith (author) from Florida on June 23, 2018:

Hi Threekeys, you are correct, The lead singer of the band INXS did die this very way.

This type of death leaves questions for us all - a mystery. Because, I believe the people who do this have always felt luck was on their side. Mr. Bourdain says this much in his interviews. I believe, even if driven by depression, the person wants to live. So, can it really be defined as suicide? I suppose it could not be described any other way. It is a game of Russian roulette. When you play, you know it’s a possibility.

Thanks so much for reading! :)

Missy Smith (author) from Florida on June 23, 2018:

Thanks John. I like the video I posted here of Mr. Bourdain talking about failure and competence. I agree with him, and I thought about that while writing this piece and then pushing the publish button. I really do accept failure if I have tried writing my way and it didn’t work out. Doing things by the book and always feeling that it will be a success is boring as f***! Lol.

I’m never quite sure about what I write, or how it will be perceived by others. Sometimes, I’ll read it several times over and question if I should word something differently or drop it totally? And then, I just say, “screw it.” I know if I did that I would be unhappy that I stressed for too long, and even if I wrote it in a more acceptable rhythm and tone, it could still fail. So, I like the adventure of stress free originality. Does that make sense? I think Mr. Bourdain explained it better than myself. :)

You seem to understand me well, John, and I appreciate that very much. Thanks again.

threekeys on June 23, 2018:

Missy, I haven't gone researching into material covering Anthony Bourdain's unexpected death.

Your wonderings about "what could have happened" takes me back to the unexpected passing of Australian lead singer Michael Hutchenance of the band Inxcess. The press released that he had died from auto-erotic asphyxiation. I guess everyone chooses their own type of high. Some live closer to the edge than others.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on June 22, 2018:

Missy, it is a sad day when you are frightened to voice an opinion or theory because of what haters may say. I think you are onto something here because of the fact Anthony was a self-confessed thrill-seeker and risk-taker and he had also talked about this subject or spoke to others who had voiced their opinions on it.

Auto-erotic asphyxiation is apparently quite a common arousal technique employed in bondage type sexual escapades. I have heard of a number of accidental deaths resulting from taking it just a little too far. Your article is well-written and offers much food for thought. R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain.

Missy Smith (author) from Florida on June 22, 2018:

I understand, MizB. I do wonder about the drug habit. He sure talked about it often as he referred to his past. I also wonder if his current girlfriend didn't drive him back to something dangerous. Pictures of her hugging and holding hands with a much younger man had been posted on the Internet a few days before this happened.

I believe he was a lot like myself though. He carried a dark shadow, but with a warrior's heart, and if I'm not dead yet from the heartbreak and loneliness of life, I just don't believe Mr. Bourdain wasn't strong enough to withstand. He had a young daughter and a very charmed life everyone envied.

However, back to the drug-use point. As much as he talked about that, I do believe he fought that desire every single day, and maybe what I have suggested here was a way to get a high without getting high-if you know what I mean... I have heard a lot of others say this is why they like this little erotic game. It stimulates, and is danger driven. I believe Mr. Bourdain liked to be tested.

I mean, I could be completely wrong. This is only a theory, and no matter what the truth is, he is sadly still gone for good. :(

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 22, 2018:

Missy, that's an interesting theory, but.... I can't even finish the statement. After losing a sister to suicide because of depression brought on by a thyroid condition, I could not even make an educated guess. I wonder if his heroin addiction played into his death in some manner. One's drug past can come back to haunt the former addict.

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