“Dear Fellow Humans,” she wrote in an open letter. “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,” she added.
Bourdain began dating the Italian actress in 2017, after she appeared on an episode of Parts Unknown filmed in her hometown of Rome. She recently directed an upcoming episode set in Hong Kong, and Bourdain would often consult her for her rich knowledge of music and film when putting together the series.
Argento was one of the dozens of women to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment in 2017 (Weinstein has “unequivocally” denied “any allegations of non-consensual sex”). Bourdain became one of the most outspoken celebrities about the #MeToo era, showing unwavering support for his girlfriend, and even holding a dinner for Argento and fellow Weinstein accusers McGowan and Annabella Sciorra.
Addressing the late chef’s depression, McGowan continued, “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,” she remarked.
Opening up about the pair’s “free relationship,” McGowan wrote that “when Anthony met Asia, it was instant chemistry. They laughed, they loved and he was her rock during the hardships of this last year.”
Continuing, she wrote that the pair “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.”
While Bourdain was shooting for Parts Unknown in France before his death, Argento was spotted holding hands with another man in Rome, according to TMZ.
“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,” she wrote, adding that although Bourdain did reach out for help before taking his life, “he did not take the doctor’s advice.”
She also asked fans of the late chef and TV host to “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,” she added.
The 44-year-old actress went on to implore anybody reading her open letter to “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,” she continued.
She also added that “Anthony would never have wanted Asia to be hurt,” before urging anyone who might be considering suicide to seek help. “We need you here. You matter. You exist. You count. There is help a phone call away, reach out,” she added.
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Speaking with PEOPLE, French prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny previously said there was no evidence of violence in Bourdain’s death.
In an interview with the New York Times hours after the news of Bourdain’s death, his mother Gladys Bourdain said she had no indication that her son may have been thinking about suicide. However, following his death, she spoke to Ripert who told her that “Tony had been in a dark mood these past couple of days.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.