Is suicide a hidden assailant in all of us?
This week, fashion designer Kate Spade hanged herself in her New York City home. Her husband, Andy Spade, said his wife had suffered from anxiety during their 24-year marriage and had experienced bouts of severe depression in the past six years. Anthony Bourdain, chef, storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture and cuisine for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61. the cause of death was suicide.
Suicide rates are soaring across America, Suicide is just one of the three leading causes of death that are on the rise, and reports don't reveal the emotional, social and financial toll that suicide demands on families and communities that are left devastated," In 2016 alone, nearly 45,000 Americans aged 10 and older died by suicide, the report showed.
Suicide rarely springs from a single factor. While mental health conditions are a focus of suicide prevention efforts, more than half of Americans who died by suicide did not have a diagnosed mental health condition. Major factors can be relationship problems, loss, substance abuse, physical health problems, job, money, housing, self-esteem or depression contribute to suicide risk. For many states the problem is growing. In the wake of highly publicized deaths are a need to quickly settle on a cause and, on some level, to distance ourselves from it, but we are only just hearing about her despair after her death could we have helped will never know tried. But we could have tried.
Most of us lack even the most basic understanding of what leads to these deaths, beyond those well-known risk-factor lists. Suicide risk is not as simple as a list of risk factors. “Eric Beeson, faculty member at Northwestern University said in assessing whether people might kill themselves, the lack of meaningful connections, histories of abuse, substance abuse disorders, assaults or even professions that contact death everyday can constitute a slow wearing away of the mental and physical barriers to self-harm. Suicide is not typically an impulsive act. A lot of suicides are very well-thought out, very well-contemplated.
In the absence of hard data, I notice that the story of Spade’s home life has changed. Discussions and random speculation will mount to guess what she has done or hasn't done as a successful bipolar person. I greet these discussions with a certain amount of cynicism. Simply, as any functional, sober bipolar alcoholic will tell you, we have a lot invested in maintaining the status quo. Opportunities are scarce when you admit to having emotional or mental problems one the job. especially when you can't guarantee that you will act “normal” for any amount of time.
The penalty for admitting to having an ongoing disease [like alcoholism, mental or mood disorders]is very different for the rest of us, than when “important” people (celebrities) die. Sometimes living with disorders has its own pain. Mel Gibson a confessed alcoholic could not get work because of his racists outbursts while publicly drunk. Or Whitney Huston’s ill concealed drug problem that caused her death.
Work discussions about whether you can emotionally handle the promotion you’ve been promised or the concentrated silence any time that you get angry or sad, the assumption that you are having a bipolar reaction rather than the usual vagaries of human moods. Even though it sounds paranoid [I know] best to assume a conversation is going on about you dissecting your behavior regardless of the fact you may never have been in trouble
The stress of people analyzing my behavior who neither understood nor wanted to understand my mental health issues, put me under a huge amount of stress. In government agencies and media, I notice the word of choice for the powers that be is “struggling”. They are willing to pat you on the back, so people can see how open-minded they are. But here is the truth there is them and you. The depression and constellation of issues that can result in the suicide option can happen to more of us than we care to mention.
“If we view ourselves as too separate from people and we think that we’ll never be there, then it’s really hard to connect with people in a meaningful way.” Before talking to someone who might be contemplating suicide, he suggests, think about where you’re coming from.
Have the hard dialogue with yourself. Am I so far removed from this?’ and if I am, that’s going to make it harder to connect with someone and catch it sooner. Otherwise it will end the usual way and no amount hand-wringing over the passing of another talented person, what could we or should we have done, or in a rare moment of honesty that she would have done to help herself
R. Preidt (2018) HealthDay News U.S. Suicide Rates on the Rise June 7, 2018
C. Dampier In the wake of Kate Spade's death, looking at suicide differently, A complex tragedy Chicago Tribune
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