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Doctor: Suicide prevention: here's how you can help

For the millions who watched his shows, Anthony Bourdain was a man living his best life, a magnetic interlocutor and ...

Posted: Jun 9, 2018 3:10 PM
Updated: Jun 9, 2018 3:10 PM

For the millions who watched his shows, Anthony Bourdain was a man living his best life, a magnetic interlocutor and bon vivant on a mission filled with travel, new experiences and people, as well as reunions with old friends. In fact, Bourdain seemed to be doing just about everything mental health providers recommend to stay mentally healthy.

Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France on Friday morning. The reported cause of death was suicide.

It shouldn't be a secret, but it remains so for too many of us: No one is living their perfect life. We all struggle. And many of us are affected by a disease that doesn't always show itself, with depression and bipolar disorder being two of the most common mental health diagnoses, both still shrouded in shame.

I personally benefited from counseling services as a depressed medical student. I wasn't alone: Fully 25% of medical students experience depression, but because of the stigma surrounding mental health, I was in the minority by seeking help -- 85% of those who need help don't get it. And these are the people we're training to take care of the rest of us. Think about that.

Bourdain's death comes directly after the suicide of Kate Spade, another beloved celebrity and businesswoman, and following news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that American suicides generally have spiked by 25% since 1999. We all know there's something deeply wrong here, and that we have to do better. Mental health is the foundation of life, and we've got to do everything we can to preserve it.

We don't know the private details of Bourdain's life and the issues that may have contributed to this event. He wrote about drug use and depression in his earlier years, but by his own description, and all evidence, was physically fit, high energy and enjoying his job presenting "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" for CNN.

We need to channel our dismay about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade into useful advocacy, philanthropy and political action. America's suicide rate was unacceptable in 1999, and it's a monumental tragedy now. There are important organizations working to solve this problem, staffed by smart and dedicated people, and vital research is taking place. Such organizations and such research need our support. Here are a few:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: With 85 local chapters, including one in every state, this $22 million organization backs research vetted by an all-star scientific council, provides conferences for survivors and families, and puts on the Out of Darkness Walks, which improve awareness and raise money to support this mission.

The Columbia Lighthouse Project: An academic center with support from AFSP, among others, this group proliferates an evidence-based series of questions anyone can learn how to ask and use, which helps gauge suicide risk. The Project trains people how to use the rating scale and what do if the risk is high.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Like many people in health care, I've spent time volunteering for such a lifeline. The experience can be invaluable, and these services do work. It is backed by the Mental Health Association of New York City, with support from a federal grant, and many other organizations are involved in keeping this national 24/7 lifeline running.

The Trevor Project: This $6 million organization exists to support LGBT youth in crisis, operates a safe social network, supports research into decreasing the burden of suicide and depression in this population and advocates to help the nation continue to become more tolerant of its diversity.

The JED Foundation: This $5.5 million organization focuses on teens and young adults, helping prevent substance abuse and suicide, targeting the age group when most major mental health problems are diagnosed. It works with high schools and colleges to train educators and counselors on suicide prevention, understanding that suicide and substance abuse prevention is an institution-wide responsibility, and the entire structure of the campus community must support mental health and well-being.

Issues of access to mental health services don't appear to have played a role in the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, but they do for thousands of others.

The disregard of our health insurers, federal and private, for adequate mental health care coverage helps foster an atmosphere everyone suffers from, whether wealthy and famous or just getting by, that mental health services are a luxury rather than an essential service everyone may need at stages of our lives -- or continuously, like insulin.

As a practicing physician, I serve as a board member for Mental Health America of Georgia, my state's chapter of a national organization advocating for the services everyone needs ready access to. This weekend I'll be helping fundraise for MHA Georgia so we can continue providing mental health education to the state's children and mental health crisis training for first responders.

Please search out what you can do in your community -- or support any of the organizations above, so we can save each other, and bend back these terrible statistics.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36578

Reported Deaths: 2258
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10188604
Lake3876207
Allen181071
Cass15919
Elkhart158528
St. Joseph135838
Hendricks120478
Hamilton119194
Johnson1125113
Madison60061
Porter56233
Clark53942
Bartholomew53139
LaPorte44824
Howard44236
Tippecanoe4344
Jackson4012
Delaware39741
Shelby39722
Hancock35427
Boone32436
Floyd31941
Vanderburgh2913
Morgan28626
Noble27821
Montgomery24917
Clinton2471
White2399
Decatur23132
Grant22923
Dubois2113
Kosciusko2052
Harrison19622
Marshall1872
Henry18512
Vigo1828
Greene17226
Dearborn17122
Monroe17113
Lawrence17124
Warrick16729
Miami1461
Putnam1427
Jennings1324
Orange13122
LaGrange1282
Scott1263
Franklin1168
Ripley1086
Daviess10416
Carroll952
Wayne906
Steuben902
Wabash812
Newton8010
Fayette797
Jasper741
Jay580
Clay533
Randolph523
Rush513
Fulton511
Washington501
Pulaski500
Jefferson491
Whitley453
DeKalb451
Starke423
Perry390
Huntington382
Sullivan371
Wells350
Owen341
Brown331
Benton320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford250
Adams231
Switzerland220
Spencer221
Fountain222
Gibson202
Parke180
Posey160
Martin140
Warren131
Ohio130
Vermillion100
Union100
Pike60
Unassigned0180

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37758

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin6323295
Cuyahoga4789265
Hamilton2811171
Marion268832
Lucas2329263
Pickaway209938
Summit1529181
Mahoning1486191
Butler97532
Columbiana89453
Stark803102
Montgomery73417
Lorain73061
Trumbull60052
Belmont44915
Warren40721
Medina37624
Tuscarawas3714
Ashtabula36938
Miami36730
Delaware36014
Portage33557
Lake32512
Clark3237
Fairfield3188
Wood30649
Geauga30334
Wayne29651
Licking27110
Mercer2278
Richland2224
Allen22133
Clermont2195
Darke19023
Erie18416
Madison1647
Washington11819
Crawford1184
Morrow1081
Ottawa10717
Greene1065
Putnam9514
Sandusky9112
Monroe8015
Auglaize773
Hardin730
Ross732
Hocking705
Jefferson672
Huron611
Williams581
Holmes573
Union561
Muskingum561
Hancock531
Coshocton480
Wyandot482
Clinton471
Shelby473
Fulton450
Logan430
Fayette410
Preble391
Guernsey382
Carroll353
Defiance342
Brown311
Lawrence301
Highland291
Champaign281
Seneca262
Knox251
Ashland230
Vinton212
Perry191
Athens181
Scioto180
Henry170
Jackson150
Paulding140
Adams111
Harrison100
Pike90
Gallia81
Van Wert70
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
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