Rose McGowan Calls for Open Dialogue About Suicide, Depression

"We need to have a conversation about suicide. Blame is not that conversation," McGowan writes about friend and fellow #MeToo voice Asia Argento and her partner, the late Anthony Bourdain.

Rose McGowan released a lengthy message about suicide in the wake of Anthony Bourdain's death Monday, titling the note: "An Important Message From Rose McGowan, a Friend: We need to have a conversation about suicide. Blame is not that conversation."

In the 700 word-plus letter received by The Hollywood Reporter, the #MeToo pioneer explained that friend Asia Argento, the partner of beloved chef Bourdain, was sitting across from her as she wrote. McGowan says she was motivated to share her thoughts in order to reach those who are looking to "lash out and blame" after a suicide. "Suicide is a horrible choice, but it is that person’s choice," she writes.

Recalling how Bourdain and Argento met — while working on his CNN series Parts Unknown in 2017 — McGowan says that Bourdain told a mutual friend after meeting the actress that "he’s never met anyone who wanted to die more than him.” McGowan says that while Argento vowed to get help and live after coming forward with her sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein this past year, for Bourdain, "his depression won."

Bourdain, who had been open about his past history with addiction and other struggles, was found dead after commiting suicide in France on Friday. The 61-year-old was filming an upcoming episode of Parts Unknown and was found by friend and chef Eric Ripert in his hotel room. Bourdain's death, coupled with the suicide of fashion designer Kate Spade, has spurred many in the public eye to open up about their own experiences with depression and urge others to seek help.

Immediately after the news of Bourdain's death, McGowan posted a video that she later deleted, where she urged anyone needing help or who is "considering suicide as a solution to a temporary problem" to reach out and call a hotline. "Anthony I am so mad at you. You were so loved, the world is not better without you.... Asia needed you, Anthony. We needed you. Please come back," she wrote, along with the video.

Argento herself also took to Twitter with a statement: "Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine."

Calling the relationship between Bourdain and Argento a nontraditional one, McGowan wrote in her letter, "I’ve heard from many that the past two years they were together were some of his happiest and that should give us all solace."

She said that before his death, Bourdain reached out for help but "did not take the doctor's advice."

Now, McGowan makes a plea for people and the media to respect Argento. "Anthony’s internal war was his war, but now she’s been left on the battlefield to take the bullets," McGowan writes. "It is in no way fair or acceptable to blame her or anyone else, not even Anthony. We are asking you to be better, to look deeper, to read and learn about mental illness, suicide and depression before you make it worse for survivors by judging that which we do not understand, that which can never fully be understood."

Adding, "There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting. We must do more and be better. Anthony, our friend, would want it that way."

McGowan also tweeted a note from Argento herself, which read: "On behalf of me and all who are hurting because of this unfathomable loss, I have asked the strongest woman I know, Rose McGowan, to be my voice, to help me shoulder this burden and write truth. Please read these words and have mercy on our pain." Argento signed the note "in grief and strength."

Read McGowan's full letter below.

Dear Fellow Humans,

Sitting across from me is the remarkable human and brave survivor, Asia Argento, who has been through more than most could stand, and yet stand she does. She stood up to her monster rapist and now she has to stand up to yet another monster, suicide. The suicide of her beloved lover and ally, Anthony Bourdain. I write these truths because I have been asked to. I know so many around the world thought of Anthony Bourdain as a friend and when a friend dies, it hurts. Many of these people who lost their ‘friend’ are wanting to lash out and blame. You must not sink to that level. Suicide is a horrible choice, but it is that person’s choice.

When Anthony met Asia, it was instant chemistry. They laughed, they loved and he was her rock during the hardships of this last year. Anthony was open with his demons, he even wrote a book about them. In the beginning of their relationship, Anthony told a mutual friend, “He’s never met anyone who wanted to die more than him.” And through a lot of this last year, Asia did want the pain to stop. But here’s the thing, over their time together, thankfully, she did the work to get help, so she could stay alive and live another day for her and her children. Anthony’s depression didn’t let him, he put down his armor, and that was very much his choice. His decision, not hers. His depression won. Anthony and Asia had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony. Was. Such a terrible word to write. I’ve heard from many that the past two years they were together were some of his happiest and that should give us all solace.

Anthony was 61, the same age my father was when he died. My father also suffered from intermittent deep depression, and like Anthony, was part of a “pull up your bootstraps and march on” generation. The a “strong man doesn’t ask for help” generation. I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor’s advice. And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt. Do NOT do the sexist thing and burn a woman on the pyre of misplaced blame. Anthony’s internal war was his war, but now she’s been left on the battlefield to take the bullets. It is in no way fair or acceptable to blame her or anyone else, not even Anthony. We are asking you to be better, to look deeper, to read and learn about mental illness, suicide and depression before you make it worse for survivors by judging that which we do not understand, that which can never fully be understood. Sometimes we are stuck in the unknowable, and that is where we are now, a massive wave of darkness that threatens to swallow everyone in its wake.

As I watch Asia do her job on set today, I see a pillar of strength who continues to work to put food on her children’s table. I see Elizabeth Taylor carrying on filming Cat on a Hot Tin Roof despite her love, her husband, dying in a plane crash. I see all of us who have carried on. Please join me in sending healing energy to Anthony on his journey, and to all who’ve been left behind to journey on without him. There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting.

We must do more and be better. Anthony, our friend, would want it that way.

To the media and to the random commenter, Anthony would never have wanted Asia to be hurt, I’d like to think he would want us to have the collective conversation that needs to be had about depression. Blame is NOT a conversation, it is the shutting down of our collective growth. Which is where we are now. We have a choice as humans, shrink to our smaller, uglier selves, or be better and grow as only true Phoenixes can. I urge you to be that Phoenix.

With great sadness and even greater hope, I remain,

Rose McGowan

cc: Asia Argento

If you are considering suicide, reach out. We need you here. You matter. You exist. You count. There is help a phone call away, reach out.

McGowan included a global list of suicide prevention hotlines. For those in the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255. For a USA Crisis Text Line, text CONNECT to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis. 

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