Cultura y conciencia

Suicide Rates Are a New (Silent) Epidemic that Few Bother to Discuss

NewsNelson SantanaComment

June 8, 2018


According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates have increased tremendously in most U.S. states, while half of the states—including New York—have seen an increase of more than 30 percent.

In the Dominican Republic, 3,629 suicides were recorded between 2011 and the first trimester of 2017 according to Listín Diario. According to statistics, most are suicide by hanging while 88 percent of those who died were men.

Suicides are an epidemic that is currently rocking the world, yet not enough people (policy-makers, media, healthcare professionals, among others) are discussing the matter. More suicides are happening in the midst of deteriorating living standards, rising unemployment, and decline of basic services like healthcare. 

This week, two celebrities presumably lost their lives via suicide. Kate Spade (born Katherine Noel Brosnahan) was found dead in her Manhattan apartment on June 5, 2018. Her husband, Andy Spade, revealed that she had been suffering from depression and anxiety. Three days later, another celebrity, Anthony Bourdain, was found dead by his friend Eric Ripert in his hotel room in Strasbourg, France. These were two successful people and many questions remain unanswered. Did they pay a price for their success? What led them to give up on living? More research is needed on this subject and society needs to remove the taboo filter and begin to discuss suicide openly with everyone including children.  

We live in a world of uncertainty: wars, environmental disasters, and humanitarian crisis have become the norm. All this affects our well-being. There is too much pressure on people to succeed, have a career, and a relationship that “works.” There are too many expectations; some people survive all of this by self-medicating with alcohol and hard drugs and ultimately, giving up on life. These factors may have contributed to these recent and previous deaths. 

In an interview with NPR, behavioral scientist Deborah Stone said, “Suicide in this country really is a problem that is impacted by so many factors. It’s not just a mental health concern.” Unlike in the Dominican Republic where hanging is the most common method, in the United States, the guns were the most common method, accounting for nearly half of total deaths.

It is often the case that multiple factors—not just one—lead to suicide. Among these factors, one can find any combination such as depression and major life stresses such as relationships or financial problems.

CDC researchers found that most people who died by way of suicide had not previously been diagnosed with a mental health condition, at least not at the time of death. The CDC report recommends that states take a more proactive approach in identifying the causes of suicide and to devise strategies and approaches to prevent such deaths. In 2017, CDC Released a technical package titled, Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices as a means to prevent suicide.

Please share the following information with your contacts. The information below includes information on how everyone can help. There are also recommendations for the media as well. We do not always know who may be suicidal. The simple act of sharing information may be the way that you help to save a life. 

More insight into suicide from the respected medical journal The Lancet can be found here

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: Division of Violence

Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Trained crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, or if you need guidance on how to help someone else, please call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). También pueden ayudar en español.

Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program (For CUNY Employees)

Free and Confidential Employee Assistance Programming (EAP) is available for all CUNY employees and their families through Deer Oaks. More information is available by phone at 1-888-993-7650 or online at CUNY is both the username and the password to get started.

Tips from the Centers for Disease and Control

Everyone can help prevent suicide:

  • Learn the warning signs of suicide to identify and appropriately respond to people at risk. Find out how this can save a life by visiting:
  • Reduce access to lethal means – such as medications and firearms – among people at risk of suicide.
  • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The media can avoid increasing risk when reporting on suicide by:

  • Following and sharing recommendations available at (for example, avoiding dramatic headlines or explicit details on suicide methods)
  • Providing information on suicide warning signs and suicide prevention resources; and
  • Sharing stories of hope and healing.

Vital Signs is a CDC report that typically appears on the first Tuesday of the month as part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators, and what can be done to drive down these health threats.