Like you, I woke up to the news that chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain has died so I decided to address the topic of suicide in today's blog post. Before I sat down to write, I checked my Facebook feed and found that my friend Christina posted words that summarized my feelings exactly.  She has worked in the mental health field in Ocean County for 20 years and I consider her one of the wisest people I know.  With her permission, I'm copying her post below with hopes that it might help you or someone you love.  If it resonates, please share it.

While we reflect on Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain, let's also remember the 45,000 others who have died from suicide this past year. According to the CDC suicide deaths have been on the rise over the past two decades.

In New Jersey we have a comprehensive mental health system of care, with agencies that offer access to therapists and psychiatrists in every county. There are also private practitioners. All this is only a Google search away.

 

Mental illness is just that, an illness. Over the past 20 years,  I have learned that it is a progressive illness which, when untreated or under-treated, may get worse.

There are many factors that keep people from accessing care:

"People will think I am crazy." Unfortunately, stigma does still exist. I implore you to ignore those people in your life who look down upon people who seek treatment. It's not seeing a therapist which makes you ill, it's your refusal to see a therapist which keeps you ill.

"There isn't enough time," Self-care is often our last priority. Work, family, and life all seem to get in the way and take a priority position. If you have ever been on a plane you have heard - put on your own air mask before helping your child. Where mental health is concerned, take care of yourself first. Being a family member, parent, worker, community member will all improve as your health improves.  Make the time. Move things around, ask for help, do whatever you need to so that you can prioritize your health.

"I tried and it really didn't work for me." I think about hairdressers with this one. If you try a hairdresser and don't get the right cut, you don't stop getting your hair cut altogether. I know sharing the details of your personal life, your frustrations, trauma, sorrow, etc, are all difficult, but if it isn't working for you, don't give up! Try having an honest conversation with your therapist - or try a new therapist. Don't give up. You are too important!

 

If you are ever thinking suicide might be the answer for you, call 911, go to your local emergency room, or call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

But I implore you - don't wait for that feeling. Take a minute today and try an online mental health screening at http://screening.mentalhealthamerica.net/screening-tools. I 100% believe every person should have a screening annually. Talk to your primary care physician, a hotline, a mental health agency, and if you don't get access to help on your first try, keep talking and asking and calling until you do!