In recent news, two beloved celebrities, fashion icon, Kate Spade, and Culinary Hero, Anthony Bourdain, passed away, both from suspected suicide attempts. The shock of one “famous” person’s suicide is enough to provide significant emotional impact within our society, without also being exacerbated by another sudden death.
A question that often follows deaths like these, of people of immense talent and creativity, who have achieved significant popularity and wealth is why? Why would people who supposedly have such resources in their lives resort to something as desperate as this? However, the answer isn’t so simple.
Recent studies, such as those from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have shown upsetting news about the state of suicide in America, stating “Suicide is a leading cause of death in the US. Suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016.”
Within the United States, suicide is accounted by as one of the highest causes of death, with at least 40,000 American mortalities estimated per year. The cause of suicide can be attributed to a number of factors: poor physical health, financial struggles, mental health issues (especially those that are undiagnosed), trauma (i.e. death of a loved one), etc. However, not each suicide is necessarily linked to a specific cause of distress.
“Now, for someone who has never experienced depression or doesn’t really know what that means, that might surprise them to hear because there’s this pretty popular misconception that depression is just being sad when something in your life goes wrong, when you break up with your girlfriend, when you lose a loved one, when you don’t get the job you wanted.
But that’s sadness. That’s a natural thing. That’s a natural human emotion. Real depression isn’t being sad when something in your life goes wrong. Real depression is being sad when everything in your life is going right.”
Within a large part of the Western World, there are often inaccurate and limited perception of the causes and reasons behind depression and suicide. Many tend to negate the severity of mental health, with the media often stereotyping those with mental illnesses as violent or inhumane. However, as the study from the National Institute of Mental Health verifies, suicide does not discriminate, reflecting anyone regardless of race, gender, or economic background.
However, for many people of marginalized backgrounds, i.e. people of color, LGBTQIA+, lower economic classes, are often affected by external societal triggers, such as micro-and macro-aggressions and discrimination in the workplace or everyday environment, as well as limited access to mental health resources, creating mental health disparities among the general population.
It is our job within this society to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health, as well as providing resources for suicide prevention and those who are suffering from mental illness.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline