CDC: Suicides have increased 30% - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

CDC: Suicides have increased 30%

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The deaths of famed-fashion designer, Kate Spade, and celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, are shedding a light on mental health.

Earlier this week, Spade was found dead in her New York City apartment. Her death was ruled a suicide. Three days later, Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room, also from suicide.

"No one is safe from suicide, so to speak. Suicide does not really care what your life circumstances are. Anyone who is struggling with mental health issues, feelings of isolation, feelings of loss, anything like that. They can all be at risk for suicide," Beau Pinkham, the Director of Crisis Intervention Services at the Johnson County Crisis Center, said.

One day before Bourdain's death, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced suicides have drastically increased. Since 1999, suicides are up 30% across the country. According to the report, Iowa was above the national average with a 36% increase.

The CDC says middle-aged men and women are at the most risk of suicide. Pinkhman added it tends to be from the ages 45 and up. The LGBTQ-community and veterans are also at a high risk.

Pinkham says it used to be more frequent among older men but that the report shows that's changing.

"The gap between men and women is rapidly declining and it's not because suicide among men has gone down -- its just because the numbers among women has gone up that much," he said.

Signs such as someone talking about suicide increasingly, feeling trapped or hopeless, changes in behavior, such as alcohol use or not sleeping should set off an alarm.

"If they're giving away possessions, especially possessions that mean something to them dearly. Writing goodbye letters. Maybe isolating themselves further," Pinkham added.

If someone suspects someone is having suicidal thoughts, Pinkham said it's important to not be afraid to ask them.

"You have to be able to vocalize that question, are you having thoughts of suicide? Use that lethal language because that's how people are thinking about it and let them know that it's a safe place for them to talk," he said.

In the United States, suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death. Pinkham said things will have to change before that number can go down, and he says it starts with conversation.

"We need to talk about suicide. We need to talk about it openly. Studies show the more that we can openly talk about it, the more suicides that we can prevent," he said.

If you or someone you know is feeling depressed or having suicide urges, please know that help is available. The Johnson County Crisis Center runs a 24/7 chat available online on it's website at

You can also call or text 1-855-800-1239 for help.

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