This week saw news reports of two prominent individuals being found dead after apparent suicides. Kate Spade, known from the fashion world a few days ago and then Anthony Bourdain, renowned chef and travel author/TV personality this morning. The fact that two people with seemingly everything going for them from an outsider perspective reached such a level of internal despair that suicide seemed to be the only way out was shocking to most who heard of their deaths. They also put a face on an epidemic that is rising rapidly in the United States.
The CDC just released a report comparing suicide rates in 2015-2016 with the period of 1999-2000 and the results are alarming. In 2016 nearly 45,000 people committed suicide, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the US. This is an increase of nearly 30% since 1999. Interestingly in this study, more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.
According to the published study, many factors contribute to suicide among those with and without mental health conditions. They include (in order of likelihood):
- Relationship problem (42%)
- Problematic substance use (28%)
- Crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks (29%)
- Physical health problem (22%)
- Job/Financial problem (16%)
- Criminal legal problem (9%)
- Loss of housing (4%)
There are warning signs to look for if you suspect someone may be at risk of committing suicide. The 12 Suicide WARNING SIGNS are
- Feeling like a burden
- Being isolated
- Increased anxiety
- Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Increased substance use
- Looking for a way to access lethal means
- Increased anger or rage
- Extreme mood swings
- Expressing hopelessness
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Talking or posting about wanting to die
- Making plans for suicide
If you suspect someone may be planning on committing suicide, there are some things you can do to help. 5 Steps to help someone at risk:
- Ask. It is better to offend someone with a simple question than have it be hidden and missed.
- Keep them safe.
- Be there.
- Help them connect.
- Follow up.
For more information on how you can help save a life, visit: www.BeThe1To.com
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts – reach out for help. Talk to your doctor, friend, clergyman, counselor, family, or anyone. You are not alone. Our mind can take us to dark places quickly when things seem hopeless. Every life has value and your current situation is not who you are at your core. You have worth and mean something to those around you. I, and many others, are pained by the loss of two people this week that we never met. 45,000 people a year is a tragedy, not counting those who attempted suicide and did not succeed.
I hope we are hitting a critical mass and this problem does not have to get worse. We are all in this together, yet many people feel alone and isolated. We need to reach out and help each other get through the hard times, so we can celebrate the good times together later. That is what a healthy community looks like. Unfortunately, we are far away from that currently and have some work, individually and collectively to do.