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Celebrity Suicides Raise Depression Alarms

There is no denying that last week was devastating for fans of celebrity pop culture. Fashion icon Kate Spade and culinary icon Anthony Bourdain both took their own lives within a matter of days from each other. Not surprisingly, that has brought the topic of suicide back to the forefront…and rightfully so.   Though it’s not highly publicized, 123 people kill themselves every day in this country. When looked upon with a broader lens, that equates the 10th leading cause of death among Americans (and tragically, the second highest killer among teens). Obviously it’s a topic worth discussing. But why does it take celebrity tragedies to make us want to re-examine it?  

“Celebrity deaths like these really highlight the fact that suicide affects everyone, rich and poor, famous, not famous, young old,” said Dr. Cathrine Frank, Henry Ford Health System’s chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services. “It affects a wide range of people. It’s a major public health problem and it is really no different than cancer or other illnesses that we know affect a wide range of people.”

Even worse, high profile deaths like these often lead to copycats across the country. In Utah, for example, suicide prevention programs have seen a drastic jump in the number of calls to their hotlines following the news of Spade and Bourdain. And, according to stats from USA Today affiliate The Detroit Free Pressthese numbers are on the rise nationally too.

Their chart below (which uses data from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control) illustrates a steady increase in U.S. suicides since 2006.

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Several prominent politicians have spoken out as well, following the high profile news. New York Senator Chuck Schumer made the press rounds late last week, calling for more federal funding for suicide prevention programs. Arthur Evans Jr., head of the American Psychological Association, also spoke to news outlets, saying that the public needs to be educated about the symptoms of depression and must work to reduce stigmas.

 “If we have lots of treatments and people don’t access them because they are ashamed or they don’t know how to get them, those treatments won’t matter,” Evans explained to The Detroit Free Press. “For family members, friends, those in people’s lives, it’s important that they recognize when a family member, friend or colleague is having problems and that they help them get connected to resources.”

Of course, our stance at inneractions, is exactly the same, as we have spent years helping people overcome depression and suicidal thoughts. Step one involves identifying the warning signs and making sure that you or a loved one isn’t overcome with feelings of hopelessness or despair. If there is any question whatsoever about this, please reach out and get in touch with someone who can help.

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