Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade suicides focus new attention on mental illness
Resources are available to help break the cycle of illness, isolation, and despair.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The deaths of celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade have focused a new spotlight on the issues of mental illness and suicide.
Ironically in this age of social media, one mental health expert said feelings of isolation are part of what is fueling an alarming increase in the number of people taking their own lives.
Years ago, Louisville resident Ellen Doyle was in a dark place, suffering from schizophrenia.
“I was actually dealing with voices, primarily, depression,” Doyle said. She said her marriage fell apart because of her illness, and despair combined with isolation almost led to suicide.
"There were attempts," she said. "Close calls."
Doyle finally found help at Bridgehaven Mental Health Services.
She says it was a relief, "after years of deterioration, to find someplace and immediately get the right medications, which are very, very important."
Doyle not only got the right medications, but also made the right connections.
"Connections with other people that make your quality of life so much better,” she said.
Doyle found help, but thousands of others do not.
"They are quietly desperate inside, and it gets to the point that they can't find, or can't think of another solution," said Ramona Johnson, president and CEO of Bridgehaven.
According to The Centers for Disease Control, the number of suicides in the country has increased by a staggering 30 percent since 1999. The numbers are even worse for Kentucky at 36.6 percent and Indiana at 31.9 percent.
“It happens because people find themselves in situations where they either don't know how to ask for help, or they are ashamed or afraid to admit that they need help,” said Johnson.
Johnson says the recent deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade do have people talking about suicide, and that is a good thing.
"Talking about suicide doesn't increase it. The way we decrease it is to talk about it,” she said.
Johnson says it is critically important to reach out.
"Talk to your minister, if you go to church," she said. "Talk to a friend. Find mental health resources."
Johnson says there are resources that can help break the cycle of illness, isolation and desperation.
"They can see that their life is worth living,” she said.
It is a life Doyle now enjoys.
"It is painful," Doyle said. "It's not easy, but it is possible. And if I can do it, anybody can do it."
Bridgehaven held its first-ever Bridge to Light awards luncheon Friday to honor the mental health professionals who save so many lives.
To find help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here.
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