How to make mental health more than just a trending hashtag

Henrietta Brewer
June 17, 2018

Last week, the sudden deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain highlighted the issues of suicide and mental health.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 for anyone who needs help. In more than half of the cases, the deceased had no diagnosed mental illness.

"Hotlines and crisis intervention are essential, but too many people never share their risk - let alone ask for help", said Tony Salvatore, director of suicide prevention at Montgomery County Emergency Service, a nonprofit mental health crisis service in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Bakersfield resident Jane Gardner calls herself a "survivor" of her dad's suicide.

"The impact feels much closer when it's someone in the public eye because we feel we know them and we make assumptions about their life", Marshall said.

NPR reported that, although the majority of suicide-related deaths now are among boys and men, the number of girls and women taking their own lives is rising.

The topic of suicide is back in the spotlight after recent celebrity deaths. Marine has been remarkably effective, helping to pass HB12-1140, which directed the Office of Suicide Prevention (OSP) to work with hospitals to provide information to those treated for suicidal behavior and their families, as well as SB14-088, which created the Suicide Prevention Commission in Colorado.

The other problem, people not wanting to receive help.

A few weeks ago a former schoolmate committed suicide and am still shocked because he was always happy and that's the last thing I expected he would do, but then again you never know what people are going through even if they say they are well or on their social media pages they seem happy.

The same week that Spade and Bourdain killed themselves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study covering 1999-2016 showing that the suicide rate in the US has been increasing for years in almost all states and across demographic lines. They are also far less generously funded compared with other leading causes of death. Most suicides occur when people don't talk.

It is not just Deepika, celebrities have opened up about depression post Bourdain and Spade's death. "She definitely hid the truth of her intense suffering from so many friends, and in turn they had no idea she needed help". She says the increased call volume has continued into this week. We're already treading on hard ground that can be made all the more treacherous when the national media covers suicides of the rich and famous.

Trending hashtags are great to bring awareness to the importance of mental health, however, conversations are more meaningful.

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