Last week, a suicide touched this local community and by chance, touched the nation for those who follow popular culture. Julien Hug, a bachelor on the popular television program The Bachelorette, committed suicide. He was 35.
My wife was acquainted with Julien and saw him a few months ago at the family's restaurant Mille Fleurs. She described him as very kind, and perhaps introverted. I have met his mother Denise several times. She has a kind, charming, pleasant personality, much as I am told Julien had. I spoke on the phone a few days ago with a close friend of mine. Many years earlier my friend had hired Denise when she was just three months pregnant with Julien -- this was before the family had made it big in restaurants. Julien grew up with a natural talent to become an artist. He thought about attending art school but instead chose to go into the family business straight out of high school.
The Hug family has established themselves as superior restaurateurs. They own two of the finest restaurants in town; Zagat-rated and internationally renowned Mille Fleurs in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe, and the eminent landmark Bertrand at Mr. A's close to downtown San Diego. They are an A-list family mixing with the most elite. Very wealthy, very well-known, loved by so many people for the excellence of their restaurants and their generous contributions to help others in need.
On the night of his death, Julien drove into the wilderness and died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He left a suicide note for his parents, one for his co-workers, and one for his girlfriend. One of the notes is reported to have said "it's the only way I know how."
As far as his participation on the show The Bachelorette, his girlfriend told RadarOnline.com that he went on the show to "travel and explore adventure" and that he was "misunderstood." It was also reported that he suffered from acute depression.
Julien was laid to rest last week at a by-invitation-only memorial service. The public outpouring of sympathy required this restriction. Rest in peace Julien.
It is easy to find reasons for Julien's suicide. But the one you and I have some control over is the social de-stigmatization of this illness. An estimated 19 million Americans suffer from depression. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world.
It's time we stopped denying its prevalence in our society. The illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Our de-stigmatization could help save a life. Based on the statistic one out of five Americans suffer from depression, chances are the person you could help by de-stigmatizing this illness is someone already close to you.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
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