This week’s news of two celebrity deaths by suicide has once again brought to light the importance of talking openly about mental health. No one is immune to depression or mental health concerns, and the two very prominent public figures who took their lives this week once again proves that point. Kate Spade was a fashion designer and business woman known for her iconic handbag designs. Anthony Bourdain was a celebrity chef that traveled the world and was known for his unique look at international cuisine. Fame and fortune did not guarantee invulnerability to the darkness that depression can bring.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 44,000 people die by suicide each year. This is a staggering figure by any measure. A report from the Surgeon General in 1999 stated that suicide was a preventable public health problem. Despite this call-to-action, suicide rates have increased 25 percent since 1999, a figure announced the Centers for Disease Control one day after Spade claimed her own life.
After the news of Spade and Bourdain, there was an outpouring of love on social media channels. Most people urging anyone considering suicide to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and others insisting that we should keep checking in on one another — no matter how strong and capable one may seem, they could be dealing with a horrible voice inside their head.
The most important thing to come out of these horrific situations is an increased understanding that no matter how stable, successful, happy, [insert positive adjective here], someone may seem, they could still be battling a hundred demons inside them. That’s why it’s important to foster a world that values community and kinship. An article from Fortune proposed cultivating an understanding of well-being and self-care in Kindergarten, encouraging people to spend time with family and friends over homework/overtime at the office, and checking in with loved ones about their mental health.
A huge step toward lowering suicide statistics is normalizing the conversation around mental health. Encouraging people to be open about what they are dealing with, refraining from minimizing problems (“Well, you don’t have it as bad as them.”), and seeking help in a professional are just some of the ways we can fight against rising suicide and depression rates.
In the wake of such tragedy, the most important thing is to remember to help the other people out there who are suffering.