SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Last week, two high-profile celebrities took their own lives: designer Kate Spade and chef and TV star Anthony Bourdain. Now a local restaurant is trying to raise awareness about the struggles some people go through with a special fundraiser.
Walking into Cloak and Petal in Little Italy, one can't help but notice the vibrant décor on the dark walls capped off by a massive cherry blossom tree in the center.
"People ask what the dark walls are. For me, it represents some of my darkest moments. And the tree, right behind us, represents a new beginning. It represents light," said restaurant owner Cesar Vallin. "For me, I've dealt with depression. I deal with it now. I deal with a lot of things."
That combined with his work in the restaurant industry, Vallin says, is why the suicide of Bourdain struck him so deeply.
"When I was going through what I was going through - nobody knew," said Vallin. "We become professionals at hiding things."
Bourdain's death came just days after fashion mogul Kate Spade also took her own life. According to the Suicide Prevention Council, research shows people considering suicide can be put at greater risk after being exposed to celebrity deaths.
"Until we really take deep action, we're going to keep seeing these kinds of results and it's personal for me," said Vallin.
So, in an effort to help raise awareness, Vallin and head chef Dominic Valenzuela created a fundraiser in Bourdain's honor. They created a special dish using slow-cooked octopus as an homage to Bourdain's fondness for Japanese cuisine.
Starting Sunday through Tuesday they'll be offering the dish with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Vallin says he knows this isn't a problem that can be easily solved.
"The only thing I know [I can do] is to help create awareness," he said. "There's help out there and, at the end of the day you have to ask yourself, 'What are you doing to help yourself?' Because you have to show up to your own life."
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