Suicide doesn’t Discriminate: 6 Warning Signs that could Save someone you Love.


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Last Tuesday morning, we woke to news that designer Kate Spade had hung herself—with a scarf.

By Friday morning, the news was covering Anthony Bourdain’s suicide by hanging. As I combed the articles and updates for suicide resources, I found most of them lacking. In many cases, the juicy, morbid details took center stage over the more important topic of discussion—where to get help.

The deaths of these two individuals are devastating—not because they were prominent and successful (although they certainly were both)—but because they were two people suffering immense pain who felt that they had nowhere else to turn. Anyone reading about the suicides should have information on where to go for help, should they need it.

Because, guess what? Suicidal people read about suicide. My husband completed suicide by train in Dana Point several years ago. He had never been diagnosed with mental illness, but—unbeknownst to me—had been exhibiting the warning signs of suicide for months. Those warning signs included a preoccupation with death and suicide.

What I understand now is that suicide, much like mental illness, does not discriminate. My husband, along with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, seemed to have it all: a great career and healthy relationships. And yet all three tragically chose to end their lives. And unfortunately, they aren’t anomalies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that suicide rates have increased by 25 percent across the United States over the last two decades—and more than half of those who died by suicide had never been diagnosed with a mental health condition. With 45,000 lives lost to suicide in 2016 alone, this is now a critical mental health crisis.

Americans as a whole, and specifically our youth, are in drastic need of education and information. Rather than reporting morbid details, we need relevant, tactical information on suicide and the resources available to anyone who needs help. Andy Spade, Kate’s estranged husband, said that there were no warning signs. The thing is, those warning signs are easily overlooked by those not educated on them—as I was not when my husband needed me to be. The bottom line is that the average person just doesn’t know all the risk factors and warning signs for suicide.

So how can we fight this growing epidemic? We need to cut the stigma associated with mental illness. My husband never wanted to “disappoint” people, including me, by talking about his struggles. Kate Spade feared injuring her brand by seeking help. But illness is illness, whether it’s cancer or diabetes or depression or any other number of mental illnesses. Education is the key to removing that stigma and helping those in pain.

Since my husband’s death, I’ve made it my life’s mission to educate young people, along with their teachers and parents, about suicide. To help yourself or someone you love, get familiar with the warning signs for suicide:

Suicide warning signs:

Talking about it. The single most common warning sign for suicide is talking about it. If someone you know talks frequently about death, or worse, suicide, take it seriously.

Engaging in reckless behavior. There’s a reason they call it a “death wish.” Reckless behavior could be a sign that your friend or loved one wants to die.

Losing interest in hobbies or favorite pastimes. Often, people who are deeply depressed or engaging in suicidal thoughts stop finding pleasure in their favorite pastimes.

Giving things away. If your friend or loved one seems to be unloading a lot of his or her possessions—particularly those he or she values, that could be a sign of suicide.

Visits or calls to “say goodbye.” The conversation could be subtle, but when someone you love seems to be bidding farewell to family and friends, you should take this action seriously.

Alarming comments. If your friend or loved one frequently makes comments about feeling hopeless, wanting out, or that the world would be better off without him or her, this could be a sign of suicide.

Risk factors for suicide:

Suicide affects every demographic, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or background. That said, there are several factors that make someone more likely than another to complete suicide. Those risk factors include:

• Clinical depression
• Previous suicide attempts
• Association to others who have completed suicide
• History of physical or sexual abuse
• Alcohol or drug abuse
• Chronic illness, including chronic pain

Suicide is tragic. Doing nothing about it is unforgivable.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or know someone exhibiting warning signs, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.



Relephant: 5 Mindful Things to do Each Morning. 

author: Kristi Hugstad

Image: Twitter

Editor: Sara Kärpänen


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Kristi Hugstad

Kristi Hugstad is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, trained in all forms of loss including loss of career, relationships, and death, but with special emphasis on issues related to suicide. In 2014, Kristi began facilitating grief recovery workshops for groups and individual therapy. She has quickly become an in-demand public speaker about suicide prevention and grief for schools and civic groups throughout Southern California.

Kristi’s writing has appeared in a number of newspapers and media outlets including The Huffington Post. She has a robust social media presence on Facebook, where she has more than 9,000 followers. For more information on grief and suicide, visit her website.

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jenisworld22 Jan 27, 2019 3:19pm

My brother Roger hanged himself on Boxing Day.

Pamela Vinton Jan 27, 2019 12:35pm

What an excellent and well researched article. Those of you making negative comments are rude. Hell! We have all lost people to this wicked…’thing!’ So be nice and don’t kill the messenger. Jan 27, 2019 11:01am

Thank you for sharing. It is always difficult to talk about a loved one’s suicide. Unfortunately, I have known several people, through different walks of life that had chosen to end their lives. Three in the last 4 months and another almost 2 years ago. I didn’t know any of them well but still feel for their suffering. As an acquaintance, I did not see the signs you mentioned but those closer may have. I can say they were all depressed but depression alone is not enough to say a person is suicidal. Today, we don’t share our true selves with ‘our friends’ and I think this is part of the problem; we don’t feel like we have someone to turn to. I can only hope that sharing articles like yours can help people become aware of signs to be aware of and for those affected, be able to reach out.

Bonnie Speeg Sep 12, 2018 3:07am

My brother was released from the VA psych unit (first time ever there...they and/or he did not share with his fiance he lived with, or we who visited him there; that he was there because of a pill overdose, it was a mild attempt)...Released, he came to his child's birthday party at my houe. Next day was Mother's Day; alone at his home, he shot himself in the head. The VA hospital had a sequestered meeting with us 11 family members. Inviting us there, then separating us, question after question....At first, we naively thought it was because they cared; it was because they were afraid we'd sue (on his release papers he states he's 'afraid to be alone with what he feels like doing; afraid of his actions'). This was not told to us until his daughter obtained his entire medical records. A travesty, tragic disaster and living hell forever here.

Bonnie Speeg Sep 12, 2018 3:00am

I say the same...what's with that? "People who talk abou suicide and death, it's a sign". Oh please. As a 5 times suicide survivor, part of the horror is not knowing what to look for. Everyone is different, there are few guidlines in their actual behavior. It can appear in their conditions, but not necessarily in their behavior.

Marilyn Regan Jun 20, 2018 5:04pm

I've lost people to suicide as well and yes, they do talk about it. One was actually petrified of death. The author also experienced it personally. Thanks for sharing Kristi. My condolences on the loss of your husband.

Elle Stuart Jun 16, 2018 12:13pm

Yes they do and if People listen that might be why they don’t but if they don’t feel heard then they will if they are not taken seriously

Rebecca Lambert Jun 14, 2018 10:18pm

It is recommended that when journalism reports and discusses suicide that the details of exactly how should not be shared. This is for the exact reason you say - because suicidal people read about it and this sort of detail is proven to aid copycats. It’s great to talk and share this article, but to be responsible you should removed the introductory sentences about exact methods.

Maureen Mcgachan Jun 14, 2018 9:19pm

I've also lost 3 family members 2 did talk about it .

Elizabeth Meszesán Jun 13, 2018 2:53pm

The world pays lip service to the whole notion of "getting help".... the sevices and supports are just NOT THERE. The government/healthcare bullshit services are just a front to make us feel good that there is money being spent on mental health and suicide prevention.... when you go looking for it it's so bloated and backlogged you're put on a waitlist for 8 or more weeks as an urgent high risk case only to find the frontline workers so overwhelmed and understaffed you can get one or two sessions with someone before you're added to the pile of people desperately waiting for help...if you can hold on that long. For many of us, that time is too long and too late. I have had people close to me go thru this time and time again; some could not wait anymore or were so frustrated from not being heard they were lost forever. All the fundraising and fancy talking in the world will do nothing if there is no one behind the facade of help.

Audra Bell Jun 13, 2018 1:25am

This was a bullshit article. I've lost three friends to suicide. People that talk about it don't do it.