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Searching for answers after suicides of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain

June 14, 2018 | By Tami Anderson

The recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have us once again talking about suicide. What appears at first to be a temporary loss of hope may actually involve more and we are left searching for answers to the unanswerable questions.

Is depression the primary contributor to the rise in the number of suicides we see happening in our country? There is no doubt depression may be around when a person chooses to end their life. A hopeless mind can be a dangerous thing. When someone is in this state it can be very hard to rationalize with their irrational thoughts.

There also may be other things contributing to the loss of perspective around the problems people face or the thoughts and feelings they are dealing with. A mental health diagnosis, substance use or grief may play a role. Warning signs are not always easy to spot and oftentimes loved ones are surprised by the suicide. In some cases, individuals contemplating suicide have higher spirits and appear less burdened because in their minds they have made peace with their decision to end it all.

Are we doing enough to break the stigma around talking to others about suicide? The public lives that Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain led show us that there may be much more suffering on the inside than what appears on the outside. Thankfully, more and more people are taking the courageous step to speak out about their mental health issues, leading to more open conversations surrounding mental health and the way to get help. Still, getting help must become culturally acceptable.

Neuroscience tells us the pathway from irrational thinking to having more hope is possible and others are taking these steps every day. Reaching out and asking for help, or having a conversation with someone about our struggles, leads to more success. For most of us it may be difficult to imagine the place a mind goes right before suicide. This may keep us from approaching them when we know they are going through something difficult. It is OK to ask them if they have ever considered ending their life. Studies show us that when a person considering suicide shares this with another person they are less likely to end up killing themselves.

If someone has opened up to you about their thoughts or plans of suicide, it is important you stay involved through the process of helping them get professional help. Here at Samaritan Counseling Center of East Texas (SCCET.org) we are prepared to walk with anyone on their journey through one more day until they are out of the darkness and into a safer place.

Suicide does not discriminate and we must respect the severity yet fight vigilantly. The theme at our annual Peace of Mind conference on Oct. 5 is “Better Together.” Join us as we learn more about how having relationships improves our outcomes and helps bring us closer to answers surrounding these big questions.

Text “CONNECT” to Crisis Line number 741741 to reach a crisis counselor at any time. You also can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 at any time.

Tami Anderson is a licensed professional counselor and the fund development manager at the Samaritan Counseling Center of East Texas.

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