Celebrity deaths highlight need for suicide prevention and awareness
This week, two prominent figures of American culture, fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, ended their own lives. Their deaths sparked national attention to suicide rates across the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates are on the rise across the U.S. Half the country experienced suicide rate increases of more than 30 percent from 1999 to 2016.
However, perhaps more significant than the loss of cultural icons is the loss of the loved ones in daily life. According to the CDC, just in Mississippi, the suicide rate
from 1999 to 2016. Before more tragedies occur, many are asking how suicides may be prevented.
Awareness is an important step toward the prevention of suicide, according to mental health experts.
“No one is exempt,” said Stephanie Taylor, Lowndes County Administrator of Community Counseling Services (CCS).
“Mental health issues are everywhere,” Taylor explains, and mental health issues do not discriminate based on age, wealth, or intelligence.
In that regard, suicide is more common than most people realize, and Taylor emphasizes the importance of realizing suicide's prevalence.
“We can't just ignore it or pretend it's going away,” she said.
From Taylor's experience, accounting for mental health issues early on can improve someone's outcome. The longer the issues persist, the worse the symptoms and the outcome can be for that person.
Taylor explains that noticing changes in the daily behavior of loved ones can help with early prevention of suicide. Changes in sleeping, eating, and social habits, accompanied by giving prized possessions or pets away are some potential signs of suicidal behavior. Another warning sign may be a noticeable increase in alcohol consumption or medication intake. In teenagers and preteens, warning signs can include newfound anger or an irritable attitude.
When these changes and symptoms occur, experts say it is important to be proactive about approaching the person about their symptoms.
However, Taylor says today's society has a fear about addressing someone with suicidal behavior.
There are different reasons one chooses not to talk to a loved one about their symptoms, according to experts. Sometimes there is a fear of making matters worse. But most people who previously attempted suicide later say they wish anyone would have approached them and asked them what was wrong.
If no one is exempt from suicide, personal care is also an important part of prevention. According to the Men-
percent of doctor's visits are simply due to stress-related symptoms. Taylor explains that unattended stress and a lack of personal care can manifest into physical symptoms.
Although people want to fix their symptoms with medicine, medicine may not always be the answer.
According to Taylor, learning healthy coping mechanisms such as adequate sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and taking time to relax, sometimes improves symptoms more than medicine would. However, when the proper steps are not taken, suicide may be one choice considered for coping with and ending the suffering.
For those in The Golden Traingle who wish to seek help for themselves or a loved one, Taylor encourages anyone to call their local offices, which can be found at ccsms.org.
For anyone who seeks services at CCS, Taylor ensures, “You will not be judged. We are here to help you.”
If someone is in need of urgent care, CDC has a 24/7 Mobile Crisis and Emergency Response Team (M-CERT), in which someone is on call to provide helpful information or, in more extreme circumstances, send an emergency response team to the caller. M-CERT is a free service, and their team can be reached at