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The scourge of suicides among us

The Jonesboro Sun - 6/13/2018

The scourge of suicides among us

One of my favorite television personalities, Anthony Bourdain, and fashion designer Kate Spade took their own lives last week.

It was the same week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta released a report on the skyrocketing rate of suicides in the United States.

A story by Sun staff writer Stephen Simpson in Sunday's edition of The Sun found in 2016, the suicide death rate in the state was 18.2 per 100,000 population, which was 14th highest in the nation.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average one person dies by suicide every 16 hours in Arkansas. More than twice as many people die by suicide in Arkansas annually than by homicide.

The ex-spouse of a relative of mine killed himself on Memorial Day. He leaves behind a teenage daughter and son, both of them will be scarred for life by the action.

According to a 2010 study by Johns Hopkins Medicine, those who lost a parent to suicide as children or teens were three times more likely to commit suicide than children and teenagers with living parents.

Bourdain had a daughter aged 11, and Spade had a daughter about 13 years old. It's heartbreaking to think of the pain the children must suffer because their parent didn't reach out and get help.

Committing suicide doesn't just end one life, it shatters families and other loved ones.

Middle-aged adults - ages 45 to 64 - had the largest rate increase, according to the report from the CDC. Bourdain was 61, Spade 55 and my relative's ex 50.

It's not easy to see the warning signs in people who may be suicidal. Friends say Bourdain was in a dark place recently. Spade's family wasn't shocked, though. She was being treated for depression, and her sister said recent conversations had not been good.

Due to space constraints in the Sunday newspaper, there wasn't room for Simpson's information box that went with his story, but I think it should run.

Suicide warning signs

According to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, things to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal include a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors.

Pay attention to conversations. Warning signs may include talk of:

Killing themselves.

Feeling hopeless.

Having no reason to live.

Being a burden to others.

Feeling trapped.

Unbearable pain.

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:

Increased use of alcohol or drugs.

Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods.

Withdrawing from activities.

Isolating from family and friends.

Sleeping too much or too little.

Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.

Giving away prized possessions.



People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:



Loss of interest.




Relief/sudden improvement.

Joe Schratz, news editor at The Sun, can be contacted at (870) 935-5525 or at