Kate Spade. Photo courtesy of CNN.
Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. A fashion icon and a culinary explorer. What unites these two these people is their widespread influence and charisma, but what more tragically links them is the fact they both died within the past month of the same cause: suicide.
Suicide is recognized as a growing issue worldwide, but it has mostly garnered attention as a problem for a younger generation struggling with depression, substance abuse and other mental illness issues. It is perhaps more shocking when a middle age person, especially one who has had a profound career and impact on their world, takes their own life.
For people from 10 to 44 years of age, suicide was the second leading cause of death, according to 2016 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is the third leading cause of death for people from 35 to 54 years of age. For such a significant tragedy that takes thousands of lives every year, it is a wonder we do not discuss mental illness and suicide more, especially in older people, who are more likely to suffer from stress related to work, relationships, childcare or economic factors.
According to CNN, the “middle age” group saw the highest increase in suicide rates over a course of two decades, ending in 2016, the most recent year that the CDC has released its data.
Adults appear to be less likely to seek treatment in coping with mental health issues. Despite how downturns in mental health play a significant role in self-harm, only half of all adults who committed suicide were diagnosed with a mental health issue, as stated by Anne Schuchat, a CDC representative.
Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) found that suicide is on the rise in other countries as well. In 2015, 78 percent of suicides were carried out in what the WHO classifies as “low and middle income countries,” indicating the problem is not confined to developed, high income countries such as America.
It may be difficult to consider what lies beneath the surface of adults, who seem to be steady and constant. Depression is not merely an issue that adolescents experience; adults also suffer from mental wellness issues, but because of the stigma and the sense of needing to be strong for others, many adults push their mental well-being to the side. This culminates in suicide, as adults find they can no longer bear their emotional burden or believe they would be better off dead.
We must address this growing pandemic by discussing warning signs of suicide, broadening access to healthcare and mental care, increasing support networks and erasing the stigma that accompanies mental health issues in adults.
As obtained by healthguide.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Suicide prevention telephone hotline funded by the U.S. government. Provides free, 24-hour assistance. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
National Hopeline Network – Toll-free telephone number offering 24-hour suicide crisis support. 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). (National Hopeline Network)
The Trevor Project – Crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Includes a 24/7 hotline: 1-866-488-7386.
SAMHSA's National Helpline – Free, confidential 24/7 helpline information service for substance abuse and mental health treatment referral. 1-800-662-HELP (4357). (SAHMSA)