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The What and Why of Suicide

Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, friends, and family. What are the risk factors for suicide and what can we do to help? Why does it happen and why don't depressed people reach out? It's scary to talk about suicide ... but we have to. Keep the conversation going even when the stories of celebrities are no longer being discussed.

In response to the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I gave the following talking points when I was asked to appear on FOX 4. Here they are for you:

Rate of suicide:

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US

  • 123 suicides happen a day in the US

  • Firearms accounted for 51% of all suicides in 2016

  • Here are more statistics

Risk factors for suicide:

  • severe depression

  • previous attempts

  • large change in circumstances (loss of job, loss of relationship, etc)

  • access to firearms

  • lack of hopefulness or ability to see the future

  • unwillingness to seek services or treatment

  • isolation

Who is at risk for suicide:

  • Veterans

  • Pregnant teenagers

  • People over 60

  • Gay and lesbian youth

  • Those who have suffered a loss

  • Those who are severely depressed

  • Those who have had previous suicide attempts

Signs of suicide:

  • Someone is talking about it (take them seriously) @50% - 75% of people tell someone first

  • Losing interest in things previously enjoyed

  • Isolation from family and friends and withdrawal from activities

  • What appears to be sudden improvement or relief after depression or help is provided

  • Giving away prized possessions

  • Expression of being a burden to others, unbearable emotional pain, feeling trapped

  • Extreme emotional fatigue

What can you do if you think someone is suicidal:

  • talk openly about your concerns

  • involve someone who has creditability with the person to assist

  • ask “are you thinking about hurting yourself?”

  • get them connected to help (go with them to appointments if needed)

What to do if you have suicidal feelings:

  • tell someone and if the don’t listen, tell someone else

  • get help

  • call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800 273-8255 (it is free, confidential and available 24/7 to provide support

Let's watch out for each other. Remember depressed people don't always ask for help. It's okay to ask someone, "Are you okay?" and say, "I'm worried about you."

If you are worried about someone and don't know how to help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at the number above. They will guide you.

Most importantly, let's keep the conversation about depression and suicide going.

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