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Johnson County mental health officials discuss suicide prevention

Posted at 4:39 PM, Jun 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-08 18:05:46-04

MISSION, Kan. -- Anthony Bourdain is the second high-profile person to die by suicide this week.

Just a couple of days ago, Kate Spade took her own life, too.

“Suicide does not discriminate based on social status, level of celebrity, financial status, race or gender,” said Johnson County Mental Health Emergency Service Director, Rob McDougall. “Everybody and anybody is susceptible to suicide, and unfortunately the higher profile deaths this week highlight this fact.”

If you or someone you know needs help, do not be afraid to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

A report released this week by the CDC showed that suicide rates have increased 25 percent nationwide from 1999 to 2016.

“It's tragic,” MacDougall said. “In the line of work that I am in, we are seeing it more and more on a daily basis and the numbers are certainly proving that.”

In Missouri, suicide rates increased 36 percent. In Kansas, it was 45 percent. 

“There's so many variables you could say,” MacDougall said. “There's significant cutbacks in services, significant decreases in psych beds, blowing up on social media.”

The reasons behind suicide are often complicated and individualized, but there are signs to look out for.

“You want to pay attention to someone who's having more extreme feelings, feelings of distress, hopelessness, overwhelming emotions,” MacDougall said. 

He says the best way to start the conversation is being open, honest and direct with someone who may be having suicidal thoughts.

“Definitely not an easy thing to do, but you want to let the person know that you're coming from a place that you care about them,” MacDougall said.