Unfortunately, death by suicide is making headlines this week. Celebrities, Kate Spade, fashion designer, and Anthony Bourdain, CNN host and chef, were both found dead. It was reported that Kate Spade suffered from manic-depression and was upset regarding a pending divorce. Anthony Bourdain had been open about his drug addiction and depression.
Suicides are increasing according to the CDC. Since 1999, suicide rates in the US have risen nearly 30%. In 2016 there were more than twice as many suicides than homicides. Both Spade and Bourdain were known to have mental health disorders, but not everyone who kills themselves has had a mental illness. As these two successful persons have demonstrated, it can happen to anyone, no matter how comfortable their life. Mental illness and suicide do not discriminate.
How can you help? Sometimes, in spite of your best intentions, you can’t always help. However, you should make an effort to be aware. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides a list of warning signs.
1. Pay attention to how they speak. Someone who is contemplating suicide might express a desire to kill themselves. Or, they have no reason to live, experience unbearable pain and feel trapped. They may say they feel they are a burden to others.
2.What is their behavior? They may sleep too little or too much, withdraw from activities and isolate from friends and family. They may increase their use of alcohol or drugs, act recklessly or be more aggressive. They may look for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means. They may give away prized possessions, visit or contact people to say goodbye.
3. What is their mood? They may have depression, anxiety, rage, loss of interest, irritability, or feel humiliation.
A friend of mine said “We should brush away the stigma of mental illness. We should check on each other. We should be kind.” A wise quote I saw is “Many people are hanging by the thinnest of threads. If you treat them well, without knowing, you may very well be that thread.” (Author unknown).
If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK(8255). It is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call is routed to the nearest crisis center in the national network of more than 150 crisis centers.