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Think, talk about suicide before it happens

Suicide has been in the news recently with the deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade and TV personality/author/chef Anthony Bourdain.

Both had successful careers, were adored by fans, had loving friends and family, yet still battled demons they could not overcome. All the fame in the world cannot prevent mental illness.

Across the country, more than 45,000 people commit suicide annually. The suicide rate has increased 25 percent since 1999, according to a recent report. In Mississippi, the rate has increased about 18 percent.

Mental illness is an obvious factor in suicides, but there are many others. Relationship problems or loss, substance misuse, physical health problems, and job, money, legal or housing stress are factors also linked to suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans – and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat. “From individuals and communities to employers and healthcare professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse this troubling rise in suicide.”

Unfortunately, suicide carries a stigma that prevents people from communicating openly about it. But there are ways to help prevent suicides.

• Know the warning signs. They include feeling hopeless, threatening to hurt oneself or talking about wanting to die, increasing alcohol and drug use, and withdrawing from friends and family.

• Talk openly about suicide. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or “Do you have a plan for how you would kill yourself?”

• Ask what you can do to help.

• If your loved one asks for something, provide it, as long as the request is safe and reasonable.

• If you know someone in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or reach out to a mental health professional. If it’s an emergency situation, call 911.

For more information about suicide prevention, visit the National Institute of Mental Health website. Tips above are from www.nami.org.