Celebrity suicides increase awareness about mental health issues

Image Courtesy: MGN Online/Peabody Awards

Two high profile deaths by suicide this week is highlighting the importance of mental health and talking about the stigma around taking your own life.

On Friday, we learned CNN host Anthony Bourdain took his own life just days after Fashion Designer Kate Spade ended her life in her apartment.

News of the deaths of Spade and Bourdain may have been shocking to some.

Two people who seemed to "have it all" revealing a deeper internal struggle that ultimately ended with them taking their own life. "I think a lot of people were surprised. It's because the trouble that person was experiencing wasn't known to the public and the larger community because it's not something that people always feel comfortable talking about," said Melissa Rowan-Decker, Director of Residential Services at Mental Health Association in Springfield. Rowan told Western Mass News suicide isn't about how successful one is or how much money someone has and it crosses age and socioeconomic groups. "The first step in preventing any suicide is for family members to feel able to reach out and talk about this very painful issue with loved ones that they have concerns about," Rowan-Decker explained. According to The Washington Post, there were nearly 45,000 suicides in 2016 which is more than twice the number of homicides.

Among people ages 15 to 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death. "It is alarming so there's been a 25 percent increase in the rate of completed suicide since 1999. The fact that the rate of suicides is double homicides is surprising to me because we don't talk about suicides as much as homicides," said Dr. Barru Sarvet at Baystate Medical Center. Rowan-Decker says there are several signs to look out for: Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies Thoughts of death Difficulty sleeping, remembering or making decisions"I think in situations especially when there's been a suicide in a community or the suicide of a celebrity, it's really important to talk to young people about that because in their mind, they may say hey, if that was an option for that person, if they felt like that was the only option. Maybe they think it's a choice for them too," Rowan-Decker continued.

There is a suicide prevention hotline that you can call 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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