In the wake of fashion icon Kate Spade’s and Chef Anthony Bourdain’s suicides, a new study fins suicide rates have increased 30% in the US over the last 20 years.
But this fact doesn’t surprise health professionals.
“People are really isolated today. People are over-stressed. They don’t have the community resources or support they need. People are working ridiculous hours and not taking vacation days. There’s a lot of contributing factors,” said Dr. Christine Paisley, a psychologist.
But while celebrity suicides often get people talking about mental health, the publicity can also be a double-edged sword.
That’s why it’s so important to recognize the signs of suicidal thoughts.
“If you notice any change in your loved ones or if there’s something that’s different in them, reach out. If they’re talking less, more isolated, not communicating, reach out. Even if they’re doing the opposite, such as going out and hanging with the wrong crowd, or doing things you don’t approve of, don’t hesitate to reach out. Ask them how they’re feeling and how they’re doing. You have to keep the conversation open,” said Dr. Nevine Estaphan, WVU Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry.
If you think someone could be suffering in silence, it’s imperative to step in.
Experts and suicide survivors all confirm the best thing you can do for someone is to reach out, even if the person seems strong.
“Depression can absolutely affect anyone. It knows no boundaries: men, women, rich or poor,” said Dr. Robert Wetzel, Obstetrics & Gynecology.
“All persons have mental health. Some days it’s good and some days it’s bad. Making sure we have this conversation whether or not it’s in the news is essential,” added Rosemary Ketchum, a NAMI Board member.