The CDC reports suicide rates have increased by 25% over the last two decades — making it the 10th leading cause of death in the country. The recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have started conversations that suicide shows no bias.
“Chemical imbalance in our brain has nothing to do with how famous we are,” said Shatter Our Silence founder Kevin Polky. “[It has nothing to do with] how much money we make, where we’re at status wise. It doesn’t discriminate that way.”
Polky says there are many myths as to why someone dies by suicide — and adds it’s rarely caused by one single factor. Mental illness, history of sexual abuse, bullying, body image issues and substance abuse can all play a role.
“Those are the factors that we look at that makes someone vulnerable,” said Polky. “Because of those events, because of those different things it makes them vulnerable to be in that darkness.”
Polky’s organization provides tools to help the community have real conversations about depression and suicide. He says starting the dialogue can help strip away stigmas.
“How do we break the silence around helping individuals that are struggling? How do we break the silence if we’re struggling ourselves?”
Polky says there are warning signs to suicide. Common ones are isolation, hopelessness, changes in attitude or behavior and suggesting life would be better if they weren’t around. He adds reaching out to someone with suicidal thoughts can help them see a different perspective.
“If its chemical with medication, if it’s an environment moving them out of their environment, or understanding if they’ve been hurt or victimized by abuse. That may shift and their perception of that pain changes.”
Polky says resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline could end up saving someone’s life — immediately and long term.
“Until they can get to their counselor the next day, but it also maybe how to link them up with immediate resources like going to the hospital or some more of a crisis or triage.”
If you or someone you know is struggling, there is help available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
That hotline is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Crisis Text Line is also available 24/7. It’s a confidential text message service for people in crisis. Text HOME to 741741.