How to have tough conversations about mental health

Frederick Owens
June 11, 2018

Almost 45,000 people committed suicide in 2016, making it one of three leading causes of death on the rise in the United States, along with Alzheimer's disease and drug overdoses.

Locally, suicide rates in MA rose 35.3 percent between the years of 2009 and 2016; in New Hampshire suicides increased a staggering 48.3 percent over those seven years. A day after the report was published, celebrity chef and writer Anthony Bourdain also died by an apparent suicide.

Experts say this shows that mental health issues can affect anyone. Suicide is often attributed to mental health problems but many who die in this way did not have a diagnosed condition. The findings point to the need to both prevent the circumstances associated with the onset of mental health conditions-such as relationship, financial or criminal problems-and support those with a known mental conditions to decrease the risk of suicide, the CDC said. It's up everywhere. And we know that the rates are actually higher than what's reported.

"There are probably hundreds of suicides deaths by suicides that have happened this week that we don't know about", said Vanessa Enos, who is the behavioral program director at Community Health Network.

Those include if a person is giving important items away, if a person is stopping doing things important to him or her, or if a person is more intentional in saying "good bye" or "I love you". "Those can all be risk factors", Kajimura said. Staley said in Utah, where there is a high rate of gun ownership, suicide deaths mirror national trends. While the study did not look at the potential reasons why that might be, Schuchat offered a possible explanation.

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"When I talk about my husband, I talk about what an awesome guy he was", she said. "Suicide has been kind of a taboo conversation for many years", says Chief Clinical Officer Kelly Olson.

The report showed a fourfold difference in state suicide rates, ranging from 6.9 per 100,000 residents per year in Washington DC to 29.2 in Montana.

Across the country, suicide rates - the number of suicide deaths per 100,000 people - rose by more than 25 percent from 1999 to 2016.

Calls for better suicide-prevention efforts are mounting, after a federal study identified a sharp rise in suicide rates in the USA over the past two decades.

There's also no single cause for suicide. "From individuals and communities, to employers and health care professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse this troubling rise in suicide".

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