Suicide rates on rise in US, CDC reports

Celebrity chef and CNN personality Anthony Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France of an apparent suicide, the network confirmed Friday. Bourdain’s CNN colleague Brian Stelter said on-air that Bourdain had hanged himself, just three days  after celebrity designer Kate Spade took her life the same way in her New York City apartment, and one day after the CDC released a harrowing study on the rising suicide rates in the U.S.

According to the CDC, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide in 2016, making it the 10th leading cause of death. The study noted that suicide is rarely caused by a single factor, and found more than half of cases involved a person who did not have a known mental health condition.

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“This is a major public health problem but we know that prevention programs work and can be effective in reducing this tragedy,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director, told Fox News.

Schuchat said the data analyzed revealed a number of factors leading up to death by suicide, including economic woes, relationship issues, substance misuse, physical health problems and others. Firearms were revealed to be the most common method of suicide by those with and without a known mental illness.

The highest rise was seen in western states, with an over 57 percent increase recorded in North Dakota. Twenty-five states saw an increase of more than 30 percent.

“We do see increases in suicide associated with economic downturns, and it can take a long time for the recovery to kick in,” Schuchat said. “We can see suicide rates improve slower than the economy.”

The study also comes a day after Netflix announced plans for a third season of its hit series “13 Reasons Why,” which focuses on a high schooler’s suicide. The show also deals with bullying, rape, gun violence and substance abuse. The series includes content warnings before the start of some episodes, as well as directives to contact suicide hotlines by the series’ actors. The warnings came after the show was accused of glamorizing suicide.

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At least one mother has blamed the series for her own daughter’s suicide attempt.

Netflix’s CEO defended the company’s decision to bring the show back for a third season, citing it’s popularity and success.

“It’s engaging content,” Reed Hastings said, according to Business Insider. “It is controversial. But nobody has to watch it.”

Schuchat said that suicide is a national issue, and that no one community is immune. 

“We saw higher increases among middle-aged people, but we did see increases in younger people and older people – essentially every age group other than those over age 75 saw increasing rates of suicide during this time period,” Schuchat said.

The CDC recommends that states take a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention, and that everyone remain vigilant about possible warning signs.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).