CDC Figures: Suicide numbers are up

- The deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have brought the issue of suicide to the forefront of conversations.

This is an issue affecting every age group, every demographic and every geographic area. According to the CDC, suicide rates are rising in 44 states, and deaths by suicide have increased by 30% since 1999. In all, Suicide claimed the lives of nearly 45,000 people in 2016. 

Several experts in this area say it's hard to break down a why, but one professional did say suicide is preventable, and that the number one thing to do, if you're having thoughts, is to speak out to anyone, even a stranger.

"A problem spoken out loud is a problem shared, and it really allows other people to step in," said Michelle Sproule, Primary Therapist at Scottsdale Recovery Center.

Sproule says a major contributing factor to the rise is the drive for success and fear of failure culture in America.

"Drugs and alcohol come into the picture and it numbs it out," said Sproule. "You numb out all of the bad, but in that you also numb out all of the good, so they lose sight of being able to see the joy in the world."

With the deaths of Spade and Bourdain, many people may be asking how could these people, who seemed to have it all, be unhappy.

"I think on the back side is a real lack of any type of emotional or spiritual fulfillment," said Sproule. "The idea that fame and money and things will fulfill us is not really accurate, and I think we trick ourselves into believing if I have more stuff then I will actually be fulfilled."

Nikki Kontz, Clinical Director of Teen Lifeline, says on average, Teen Lifeline sees a 10% to 15% increase in calls every year, with one in three of those calls coming from a teen who is having thoughts of suicide.

Kontz says the best way to help someone who is struggling is to be blunt. 

"Don't be afraid to very directly ask the question of are you having thoughts of suicide. Are you having thoughts of hurting yourself," said Kontz. "The immense relief it gives someone to unburden their shoulders with those scary dark thoughts, we give them permission when we ask them that question."


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Toll-Free: 1-800-273-8255
TTY: 1-800-799=4889
In Spanish/En Español:  1-888-628-9454
Lifeline Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/

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