As news of two celebrity suicides has upset many people around the world this week, it has presented a possibly lethal risk to a segment of the population: those already struggling with their own mental health issues.
“Here we have two people similar in age, with different fan demographics, but who both have young kids, and are well liked and well respected in their fields,” Julie Cerel, president of the American Association of Suicidology tells Yahoo Lifestyle regarding the suicides of both designer Kate Spade and chef/TV host Anthony Bourdain in recent days. “So people might say, ‘If their life is so bad, and they had everything, what hope is there for someone like me?’”
[size=1.154em]In other words, says Daniel Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, “‘if they couldn’t make it, how can I?’” That’s why, he tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “we know that when there’s a celebrity suicide, it increases the risk of contagion.”
[size=1.154em]But reasons for suicide are complex, and anyone can be at risk, regardless of social or socioeconomic status. It’s a fact unfortunately proven not only by the deaths of the highly successful Spade, who was 55, and Bourdain, who was 61, but also by the jarring statistics of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released on Friday: that suicide rates are up 25 percent nationally, that they rose steadily in nearly every state between 1999 and 2016, and that, in 2016, there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides. Reasons for the spike, according to the report, range from problems with relationships and substance abuse to a physical health problem or “crisis” of some kind — issues that can affect anyone.
[size=1.154em]Still, when someone already thinking about suicide or dealing with any variety of mental health struggle learns that a celebrity at the top of his or her game has committed suicide, it can be dangerously triggering.
[size=1.154em]Both Cerel and Reidenberg point out that following the 2014 suicide of Robin Williams — news that Spades sister said this week had captivated Spade at the time — there was a rise in suicides nationally; one study put the subsequent rise at 10 percent in the months that immediately followed.