Recent suicide deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, two top celebrities who were adored by millions, sent shock waves to society at large.
My heart sunk on the sad death of Anthony Bourdain. I really enjoyed watching/listening to this wonderful man. To most of the people that knew him or knew of him, Bourdain was simply strikingly, delightfully good with words. Though his focus was within the world of food, he could speak eloquently and powerfully on nearly any topic, from Armenian genocide to working in restaurants to American politics to omelets.
Likewise, fashion designer Kate Spade who created the must-have handbag of the 1990s and turned it into an accessories empire adored by millions also took her life. She was always a very excitable little girl and I felt all the stress/pressure of her brand may have flipped the switch where she eventually became full-on manic depressive.
I shared these two tragic events to highlight even a bigger issue in the corporate world. The stress and pressures of the corporate world are extremely high. While we speak of corporate social responsibility, most organizations (barring few) do not really care about the well-being of their employees. I’ve served in the defense forces as an officer and I can clearly relate this difference. The armed forces around the world pay special attention both physical and mental health issues and that’s why they are able to undertake tasks which are seemingly daunting to normal beings.
The suicide rates are on the rise in the developed countries (The US reported a 30% high in the past two decades) and the modern day pressures adding to this new phenomenon. The mere focus on revenue targets and program delivery and execution would not help in the long run. Clearly, there should be more open communication to understand the overall wellbeing of employees in an organization. Clearly just because someone's life appears good on the outside, doesn't mean all is well in their moments beyond the public eye.
I do have an appeal to all parties- the employees and leaders. Please create more open communication. If someone is not performing at the same level, please try to find out what’s going on in his or her life without breaking the privacy protocol. If someone is in trouble, please seek help. Mental illness, depression, or anxiety is no more a taboo.
Let’s all start with every conversation (corporate or otherwise) with a genuine inquiry of the personal well-being. Despite all the day to day challenges, we all live in a beautiful world. Let’s allow everyone enjoy this world to its fullest extent.
If anyone is struggling right now, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the many other professional mental health care agencies.
Dr. Saju Skaria is a Business Adviser, Researcher, Speaker, & Author. Connect him on LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook.