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Still reeling from news of fashion designer Kate Spade’s suicide earlier this week, fans of Anthony Bourdain woke to news on June 8 that he too had taken his own life. The celebrities’ tragic deaths come as a new report highlights the growing problem of suicide in the United States.
A study released on Thursday, June 7, by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that suicide rates rose in 49 states between 1999 and 2016, with a total of nearly 45,000 suicides in 2016. The report lists suicide as the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. Numbers increased across all demographics, including race, age, gender and ethnicity. Notably, over half of suicide victims did not have a known mental health condition but did more commonly have relationship problems, life stressors, and/or recent/impending life crises.
“We’re losing more people to suicide than we would if the 9-11 attacks happened 10 times every year. This isn’t someone else’s problem, it’s up to all of us to come together and talk about it,” said Glenn Most, PsyD, executive director of West Pines Behavioral Health. “Even if someone seems like they have everything, they might still be struggling with something they’re afraid to talk about. We need to reach out to the people we know and ask how they’re doing, that’s how each one of us can help turn this around.”
Most is part of a coalition of public and mental health groups behind the Let’s Talk Colorado campaign, an initiative encouraging Coloradans to talk openly about mental health. Experts recommend individuals reach out to others who seem stressed, sad or just not themselves, and ask them how they’re feeling. The next step, they say, is to encourage someone to seek professional help if needed.
"The CDC's research and this week's headlines prove that suicide is an issue that affects us all, no matter our background or level of success," said John M. Douglas, Jr., M.D., executive director of Tri-County Health Department. "We all need to look out for each other by reaching out. We can even save a life by supporting someone we love if they need mental health care."
Let’s Talk Colorado is a community-driven coalition of organizations including:
AllHealth Network, Aurora Mental Health Center, Boulder County Public Health, Broomfield Public Health, Centura, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Community Reach Center, Denver Public Health, Doctors Care, Douglas County Government, Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Jefferson County Public Health, Kaiser Permanente, Mental Health Center of Denver, Metro Community Provider Network, SCL Health, Tri-County Health Department and UC Health.