For the second time in a week, a high-profile celebrity has taken their own life.
It has placed a spotlight on new research showing a rising trend in suicide.
“Most difficult thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” said Barb Smith.
Smith lost her brother to suicide. That tragic event fuels her passion to keep other families from experiencing the same pain.
She is the executive director of the Suicide Resource and Response Network in Saginaw. She said the agency has received an uptick in phone calls on Friday after news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide became public.
“People are now asking for help when maybe they didn’t take it serious or were aware of it. So in some ways it’s bringing awareness to it and the families are not going to help their loved ones,” Smith said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicides in the United States are on the rise. They are up 30 percent nationwide between 1999 and 2016.
In Michigan, the rate is even higher at 33 percent.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2016, suicides more than doubled the number of homicides nationwide.
“Start educating people and actually doing more work in the mental health field. We need more money, more services and more programs to help people who are hurting,” Smith said.
Smith also said what to look for amongst friends and family members.
“Increased alcohol and substance abuse, lack of sleep, anxiety, a lot of sadness, emptiness, not enjoying the things they used to. But most importantly, when people talk about it or express hopelessness and express that they can’t take it anymore,” Smith said.
Those changes in behavior could be signs of trouble.
Smith said if we all do our part we can get to zero suicides. She has been working towards that goal since her brother’s death 29 years ago. She said it would mean the world to her to reach that goal and find another line of work.
“It would be great to not have a job,” she said.
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