On Tuesday morning, we woke to news that designer Kate Spade had complete suicide by hanging herself – with a scarf. By Friday morning, the news was covering Anthony Bourdain’s suicide by hanging. As I combed the articles and updates for suicide resources, I found most of them lacking. In many cases, the juicy, morbid details took center stage over the more important topic of discussion – where to get help.
The deaths of these two individuals is devastating – not because they were prominent and successful (although they certainly were both) – but because they were two people suffering immense pain who felt that they had nowhere else to turn. Anyone reading about the suicides should have information on where to go for help, should they need it.
Because, guess what? Suicidal people read about suicide. My husband, Bill Brotherton, completed suicide by train in Dana Point several years ago. He had never been diagnosed with mental illness, but – unbeknownst to me – had been exhibiting the warning signs for suicide for months. Those warning signs included a preoccupation with death and suicide.
What I understand now is that suicide – much like mental illness – does not discriminate. My husband, along with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, seemed to have it all – a great career and healthy relationships. And yet all three tragically chose to end their lives. And unfortunately, they aren’t anomalies.
The CDC reports that suicide rates have increased by 25 percent across the United States over the last two decades – and more than half of those who died by suicide had never been diagnosed with a mental health condition. With 45,000 lives lost to suicide in 2016 alone, this is now a critical mental health crisis.
Americans as a whole, and specifically our youth, are in drastic need of education and information. Rather than reporting morbid details, we need relevant, tactical information on suicide and the resources available to anyone who needs help. Andy Spade, Kate’s estranged husband, said that there were no warning signs. The thing is, those warning signs are easily overlooked by those not educated on them – as I was not when my husband needed me to be. The bottom line is that the average person just doesn’t know all the risk factors and warning signs for suicide.
So how can we fight this growing epidemic? We need to cut the stigma associated with mental illness. My husband never wanted to “disappoint” people – including me – by talking about his struggles. Kate Spade feared injuring her brand by seeking help. But illness is illness, whether it’s cancer or diabetes or depression or any other number of mental illnesses. Education is the key to removing that stigma and helping those in pain.
Since my husband’s death, I’ve made it my life’s mission to educate young people, along with their teachers and parents, about suicide. My book, R U OK? Teen Depression and Suicide, is filled with the resources and tactical information the media lacks in its coverage of these tragic events.
Some of the information presented in "R U OK?" include:
Suicide warning signs
Risk factors for suicide
Suicide affects every demographic, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or background. That said, there are several factors that make someone more likely than another to complete suicide. Those risk factors include:
Suicide knows no time or season. By knowing how to spot suicide risk, you can save the life of someone you love.
I would invite anyone interested to visit www.thegriefgirl.com for a free copy of this book. Suicide is tragic; doing nothing about it is unforgivable.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.I would invite anyone interested to visit www.thegriefgirl.com for a free copy of this book. Suicide is tragic; doing nothing about it is unforgiveable.
by Kristi Hugstad
Each of us has attached ourselves to something or somebody, and when you lose that special thing or person, you grieve. Always. You can try to run from it all you want, but it will always find you and tackle you when you’re not looking. My blogs, along with my books, will give you the tools to help you learn to live with your new self as you journey through your grief.