My heart and soul hurts at the frequent news stories related to suicide. The media has focused on the latest two celebrities who ended their life this past week ˗ Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. To the world, they seemed to have it all; apparently for them, it was all too much. Unfortunately, the media doesn’t emphasize the ever-escalating number of suicides throughout the United States. In fact, the number has increased over 30% since 1999 according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study found that suicide rates rose in men and women and across all age and ethnic groups, propelled by mental illness, substance use, financial hardship and relationship problems.
Over the years, primarily due to my published books and multiple media appearances, I have seen numerous celebrity patients in my practice. Many were hesitant about therapy due to their public image and the stigma that unfortunately still exists related to mental health. The pain and anguish that led Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to take their own life must have been unbearable. Many may know that feeling; I know it. When I experienced a severe trauma, I felt as if life was not worth living; and I am a psychologist! I believe it is inevitable that most people, at some point, will experience despair and an existential crisis which involves questioning the meaning of life. There are certainly times where most who face adversity misperceive that the pain will never end. They don't realize that "this too shall pass.”
While many are hesitant to begin therapy, there are also those who are so completely overwhelmed that they are unable to make that call for an appointment. A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn't mean that help isn't wanted. This is where we, ALL of us, need to become more aware of difficulties our family/friends may be experiencing. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can often save a life.
I'm making a personal promise and professional commitment to be available to any person in the public eye who is wrestling with thoughts of suicide, is apprehensive about therapy due to the stigma and is afraid to seek help, I am here for you for an emergency consultation, free of charge. No matter how dire it may seem, there is help. Please don't resort to a permanent solution for a temporary problem.