Kate Spade, a designer, took her own life on Tuesday morning. She used a scarf.
The same week did not end before Anthony Bourdain hung himself.
In both cases and several others like them, the media chose to focus on the macabre details that came with these deaths.
The important issue of where these people could get assistance was not given much attention, if any.
These two were prominent people, but deep down, they were just people going through a lot of pain and did not find a respite. That is why they ended up taking their own lives.
It's funny that people reading about suicide stories don't always find information on where to get the help that could save their lives in such situations.
Suicidal people read about suicides. In fact, they are more likely to read about it as they are more preoccupied with death.
But what the suicides of these celebrities can tell us is that suicide does not discriminate.
People who seem to have their lives going well for them can take their lives without any warning. Age is not a factor either – both young and old people take their lives.
What's worrying is that suicide rates have been on the rise, with a 25% increase in the U.S. in the last 20 years.
No, the people who are making this drastic decision did not always have a mental health diagnosis. In fact, less than 50% of them had been diagnosed with mental health issues.
So suicide stories need to focus less on the details and instead focus on educating people on how they can get help when overwhelmed by suicidal thoughts.
For instance, Kate Spade's husband says that he did not see any warning signs.
But it's not that these signs are so hard to notice. The problem is that we lack enough information to notice them when they occur.
But before we can get to the point where we can easily notice these signs, the stigma associated with mental health needs to end. For instance, Kate Spade thought seeking help would be bad for her brand.
This is a common narrative among many people who have committed suicide.
Just to make things clear, here are some suicide warning signs to look out for:
1. Talking about death or suicide. When someone seems to have this kind of talk on a regular basis, take heed.
2. Calling or visiting to say goodbye
3. Loss of interest in hobbies and pastimes.
4. Being reckless, which can show a desire to die.
5. Giving away valuable things.
6. Making shocking comments about hopelessness or statements to the effect that the world would be better with them gone.
Here are some suicide risk factors to watch out for. Note that these risk factors affect all kinds of people. It doesn't matter their age, ethnic origin, background, or anything else.
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- Suicide attempts in the past
- Clinical depression
- Associated with people who have committed suicide
- Chronic illness and pain
We should feel responsible for helping people who are likely to attempt suicide.
Otherwise, if you have suicidal thoughts, or see someone showing signs of this possible tragedy, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).