Just days after fashion icon Kate Spade died by suicide, celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain, host of the CNN travel show "Parts Unknown," was found dead in his hotel room in France at the age of 61. CNN confirmed the death, calling it a suicide.
These high-profile deaths come the same week the CDC reported suicide rates in the U.S. have risen nearly 30 percent since 1999.
In light of such disturbing news, many are left wondering, "What’s going on?"
"A lot of very smart people are looking at this and saying it’s multifactorial. We don’t really understand why there’s such an increase," CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook said on "CBS This Morning."
"One of the things we keep coming back to when these surprising events happen is you never know what is in somebody’s head," he said.
Mental illness, including depression and anxiety, is a major risk factor for suicide. But it’s important to remember there isn’t just one cause.
The CDC report found that other issues, including relationship problems, substance abuse, physical health problems, job- or money-related stress, legal or housing problems often contribute to suicide risk.
Though Spade and Bourdain may have seemed on the surface to lead enviable lives, both had private struggles. Spade’s husband said she suffered from depression and anxiety for years, while Bourdain had spoken openly about his past drug addiction. "I should’ve died in my 20s," he said in a 2016 interview with Biography. "I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car – a really nice car – and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights."
Health officials recommend that everyone familiarize themselves with the warning signs of suicide, which may include:
- A person thinking about or threatening suicide or seeking a way to kill them self
- Increased substance abuse
- Feelings of purposelessness, anxiety, being trapped, or hopeless
- Social isolation and withdrawing from people and activities
- Expressing unusual anger, recklessness, or mood changes
If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or thinking about suicide, talk to someone who can help, such as a trusted loved one, your doctor, your licensed mental health professional if you already have one, or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.
If you are concerned a loved one is at risk of suicide, talk to them about it. Experts say you shouldn’t be afraid to raise the issue.
"People tend to tip-toe around sensitive issues like suicide. You shouldn’t. You’re not going to prompt someone to do it by asking them," Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, told "CBS This Morning."
If you’re worried about how to start the conversation, Lieberman offered some suggestions.
Say things like "I noticed you’ve been looking down, or I’ve noticed you’ve said things that seem like you’re really not as motivated towards life," he said.
Then ask if there is a problem or if there’s anything they want to talk about.
"If they say something like ‘I feel like my life is really empty,’ say ‘we need to get help,’" Lieberman said.
If you believe your loved one or friend is at risk of suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek help from a doctor or the nearest hospital emergency department or dial 911. It’s important to remove access to firearms, medications, or any other potential tools they might use to harm themselves.
For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.
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