The unthinkable happened this week when Anthony Bourdain, a gifted and talented American chef, had committed suicide at only 61 years old. Even though Anthony was a celebrity that we never had the pleasure of meeting, we felt as if we lost a friend. For years we welcomed Anthony into our home, watching his travels, listening to his stories, and drooling as he spoke to us in the language of food from around the globe. We envied his zest for life, his ways of breaking down cultural barriers, and his knack for uniting people through the most common necessity . . . food! Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out not only to Anthony’s family but to all families and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Suicide rates are on the rise, especially in the United States. We felt the need for discussion because friends, family, or even our beloved dog owners could be suffering from a life of despair. Life can be so tough, and even tougher when you feel there is no support. However, there is always help, and we need to start being more vigilant to the risk factors, signs of a possible suicide, and how to help someone that may be suicidal.
In the United States¹:
- Suicide rates are higher in the spring
- Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide annually
- On average, 1 suicide happens every 16.2 minutes
- Each suicide closely affects at least 6 other people
- Males make up 79% of suicides
- Half of all suicides are completed with firearms
- Suicide deaths are double the deaths from HIV/AIDS
What are some of the risk factors²:
- Feelings of hopelessness or depression
- Mental disorders
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major physical illness
- Previous suicide attempt and/or family history of suicide
- Job or relationship loss
- Easy access to lethal means
- Lack of social support
- Stigma around asking others for help
Warning signs that someone may be thinking of suicide²:
- Talk of wanting to die
- Looking for weapons
- Talk of hopelessness and no reason to live
- Talk of feeling trapped and a burden to those around them
- Increase use of alcohol, drugs, and other types of reckless behavior
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Either sleeping too little or too much
- Extreme mood swings
- Increase aggression and/or possible talk about wanting to seek revenge
We can all help to prevent suicide by being willing to talk about it. Do not be afraid to ask someone if they need help. By showing concern, we can start to bring an end to unnecessary deaths in our own family and communities. If you think someone may need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at: 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
- Do Something .Org. https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-suicide. Accessed 10 June 2018.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide/. Accessed 10 June 2018.