Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade’s deaths ignite concern over rising suicide rates

Anthony BourdainThe highly-publicized suicidse of fashion designer Kate Spade and television personality Anthony Bourdain have people talking about the subject.

“These are terrible tragedies, for their families and for their fans, and that’s what we have to acknowledge first,” said Joel Young, M.D. a psychiatrist at Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak and medical director of the Rochester Center. “But research reveals that talking about suicide doesn’t promote it. It’s far more important to open dialogue and ensure individuals suffering from the symptoms talk openly and honestly about their feelings.”

This is especially important since the deaths brought to light the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent report showing the enormous toll of suicide, a growing problem that claims nearly 45,000 lives a year.

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According to the CDC report, suicide rates between 1999 and 2016, show an increase in every state but one, which had a decline but still higher than average rates.

“Mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but suicide is rarely caused by any single factor,” said the CDC report. “In fact, many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death.” Other problems that contribute to suicide can be related to relationships, substance abuse, physical health, and job, money, legal, or housing stress. Young said they usually come together in a constellation of symptoms.

What’s important for families is to recognize them and encourage their loved ones to seek the help of a psychiatrist, mental health professional or clinical social therapist.

  • Feeling like a burden
  • Being isolated
  • Increased anxiety
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Looking for a way to access lethal means
  • Increased anger or rage
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Talking or posting about wanting to die
  • Making plans for suicide
  • “Hopelessness seems to have a very bad outcome,” Young said. “However, just making contact with a professional and addressing the symptoms can give a person hope and decrease the burden of the condition. They might not be perfect but better. That alone gives them hope and allows them to live another day.”

    The CDC recommends the following five steps to help someone at risk:

    1. Ask. Open up the lines of communication.

    2. Keep them safe. When people are showing symptoms make sure the home is free of lethal firearms and remove potentially lethal medications like opioids, and even Tylenol.

    3. Be there. Make sure the person knows they can talk to you openly and honestly. Listen.

    4. Help them connect. Help to facilitate appointments with mental health professionals. “If they’re unmotivated or too overwhelmed to make the appointment make it for them,” Young said.

    5. Follow up. Encourage your loved one to continue with their mental health treatment.

    For more help call the Macomb County Crisis Center at 586-307-9100.

    For a referral to a mental health professional at Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak, call 1-800-633-7377.