In a lengthy statement released on Monday -- penned three days after Anthony Bourdain was found dead of an apparent suicide -- the 44-year-old activist is urging people to have a serious conversation about suicide, without placing blame on others.
At the time of his death, Bourdain had been dating Argento since 2016. When news broke that the famed food critic had died, some were quick to place the blame on Argento, who had recently been seen out and about with one of her male friends and fellow #MeToo advocates, Hugo Clement, in pics obtained by The Daily Mail.
"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," McGowan's note began. "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."
McGowan says there was "instant chemistry" between Bourdain and Argento from the moment they first met. She claims Bourdain was the actress' "rock" during all of the hardships she faced this past year as one of many women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. As strong as he was for Argento, McGowan claims Bourdain had many "demons" of his own.
"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," McGowan says. "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," she continues. "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."
Read the latter part of McGowan's statement below, in which she claims Bourdain sought help prior to his death:
"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."
"It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," the network -- which aired his Parts Unknown series -- said in a statement to ET. "His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time."
In addition to Argento, Bourdain is survived by his 11-year-old daughter, Ariane. Hear more in the video below.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).