Rose McGowan, friend to the late Anthony Bourdain and his girlfriend, Asia Argento, has stepped up to defend the couple in the face of online blaming. McGowan penned a lengthy letter about suicide for release to the public, and in it, among other things, she delves into details about Bourdain’s and Argento’s personal relationship.
Bourdain died by suicide on Friday morning in France at the age of 61.
After his death, Argento posted a brief statement to her Twitter account, asking for privacy.
Underneath the post, things quickly got out of control when a reader pointed out that Argento, 42, was spotted out in Rome with French journalist Hugo Clément mere days before Bourdain’s death.
The pair is seen in multiple photographs holding hands, hugging and generally looking romantic, leading many to believe (and speculate) that the alleged dalliance may have further contributed to Bourdain’s passing. The theory online goes that Bourdain was thrown into a deep depression spiral by the photos — again, with absolutely no tangible proof that this was the case.
Days later, online trolls and fans of Bourdain are still attacking Argento for what they perceive as cheating or mistreatment.
In her letter, McGowan states that she’s sitting with Argento (meaning she had her permission to write and disseminate the letter), and describes her and Bourdain’s relationship as “free,” and that the couple “loved without borders of traditional relationships.”
By the sounds of the letter, Bourdain, 61, and Argento had some sort of open relationship, which means that they could date multiple people at the same time. McGowan insists that the two of them “established the parameters of their relationship early on.”
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She goes on to say that Argento should not be blamed for Bourdain’s death, and suicide isn’t something that just happens out of the blue.
Aside from her plea for people to respect Argento, she also encourages everyone to learn as much as possible about mental illness and suicide.
“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,” she wrote. “Anthony, our friend, would want it that way.”
Here is McGowan’s letter in its entirety:
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,
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.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) all offer ways for getting help if you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues.