Mental health warning: Why are suicides on the rise?
The CDC's suicide report came out the same week designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain both died by suicide. And psychiatrist Dr. Ray Kotwicki, Medical Director at Atlanta's Skyland Trail, says, when you look closer at what's driving a record number of Americans to take their lives.
"There are two things that pop out. One is not having a community that supports you, and feeling isolated," says Dr. Ray Kotwick.
The other, Dr. Kotwicki says, is easy access to lethal weapons, like guns, which the CDC says were the leading means of suicide. And Kotwicki believes our increasing reliance on social media is also to blame.
"The more time somebody spends on social media, the more anxious the person becomes," explains
Dr. Kotwicki. "And then secondly, I think when people are on social media, by definition it makes it impossible to have a real-time conversation."
So, we're looking at our screens rather than checking in with each other.
Untreated depression is a major risk factor.
But the CDC says nearly half of those who died by suicide didn't have a known mental illness.
The most common factors: relationship problems, life crises, an alcohol or drug abuse.
"Substance abuse and suicide go together like hand and glove," says Dr. Kotwicki.
Kotwicki says many of those who die from suicide were intoxicated, either on alcohol, opioid pain medication, or prescription drugs, like those used to treat anxiety.
"And it makes sense to me why someone who is struggling would want to numb their feelings, but ironically, it makes it harder for people to think, and I think it decreases inhibitions.