By Mark Sweet, ESQ

Today it is being reported that another person involved with Gordon Ramsay’s cooking programs has killed themselves.  Ramsay, a popular British TV Chef known for coarse language and some anger issues, has become a near household name in America.  Currently, he has three shows, Hell’s Kitchen, in which chef contestants compete for a chance at a $250,000 job at one of Ramsay’s restaurants, Masterchef, a competition for home cooks and Kitchen Nightmares, in which Ramsay helps downtrodden restaurateurs in his less than friendly fashion.  While many would consider being called a “donkey,” let alone words I shall not repeat on this blog, rather insulting, most people that have dealt with Ramsay say he is actually genuine in his desire to help others.

That’s why today’s news is particularly sad.  A chef-owner from New Jersey was found dead after jumping from the George Washington bridge.  He was one on one of the first episodes of Kitchen Nightmares to air.  His death follows the suicide of a contestant from Hell’s Kitchen.  Sadly, there are other cases of those involved with Ramsay killing themselves in Europe.  While I strongly doubt that Ramsay has anything to do with these deaths, it is interesting to think of the potential consequences if you were to push someone to the brink of suicide.

Should They Be Held Accountable?

If you were to push someone, either literally or figuratively, “off the cliff” should you be liable? Now, obviously, if you set someone up on a cliff, run up behind them, and push, well, you are likely liable for murder. However, what if you bump into someone that is standing on a cliff? Certainly that’s not murder right?

So if what you said something that drove someone to kill themselves?  This is a bit trickier.  Words alone usually do not constitute a crime (except for things like slander or libel).  However, if you knew that a person was particularly vulnerable to something (such as the loss of a child) and you continued to tease them until they finally lashed out and punched you, then you wouldn’t likely be able to sue.

So does Ramsay’s antics constitute enough to be culpable?  Is it just going to happen because many of these people have other situations in their life? What do you think?