Celebrity Deaths Sparks Conversation About Mental Health
This is a public service announcement (PSA), reminding you to stay connected to the people you love, letting them know you are a safe, no-judgement outlet for them.
As a fashion enthusiast and in my work as a woman entrepreneur in media, Kate Spade has always been one of those brands that I admire, love and adore. To me the brand has all the hallmarks of playful sophistication and class, yet still functional. Like many, I have Kate Spade jewelry, stationery, and bags. And anyone who would gift me Kate Spade would be my friend for life. So much so, that news of her passing, which came to me back-to-back from several people close to me, was a shock.
The news was a difficult one, but as I’m recovering from the shock, there came news of the Emmy-award winning host--Anthony Bourdain. I started thinking about the people without the notoriety, and found the need to write this. Partly as therapy, but mostly to encourage you.
The State of Mental Health in Our Communities
Depression is real. Mental illness is real. Life is real. No matter how successful people are, depression and mental health do not discriminate. Depression and mental health illnesses has no demographic boundaries.
We all face challenges from time to time, and many times it is easy to forget that the people around us may be going through or dealing with challenges or real pain. According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased in almost every state since 1999, making suicide one of the top causes of death in the US - behind heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. In fact, there are twice as many suicides than homicides. In 2016 alone, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide.
As a communications consultant, I can say the evolution of technology and new media has brought us together. However, I must also admit that it has also caused a divide. So now more than ever, there is a need to stay connected to the people that we love and care about. **side note--thanks to my girl Petia of the Stylista Group, for taking the initiative to check in on friends** According to the CDC, suicide rates have spiked by more than 30%, and the majority of those who died by suicide didn't have a diagnosed mental health condition. However, many suffered from the likes of financial, physical health or relationship problems, as well as substance abuse issues, which their family and friends are usually not aware of.
You never know what people are going through. Many of us wear a mask of happiness but inside we are dying. Why? Because we are ashamed to disclose our real emotions for fear of being judged, appearing weak and vulnerable. The stigma about mental health, has somehow acquired a negative connotation. We don’t even consider going to see the doctor. But as a society, we need to do better, we need to start having a real discussion about depression and mental health; opening up the lifeline for those around us to feel safe to ask for help.
We all have to deal with our own difficult personal circumstances over the course of our lives. But unlike many, some of us have been fortunate to have family and friends who have been our life line. Unfortunately, some don’t have the support to help them reclaim their lives and keep them out of the deep rabbit-hole that often leads to depression. Like you, I’m not insulated from life, no one is. Life is overwhelming as hell but you don't have to feel paralyzed and embarrassed that things in your life are out of control. The truth is, you don’t have to have it all together. No one does.
I implore you to pick up the phone and call someone today, and remember, you MUST practice self-care and self-love. The cycle continues if we don’t create no judgement and safe outlets for our family and friends, and help to lift the stigma to make people feel it is OK to ask for help.
If you or someone you know needs this, here's the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255