Counties Ask: Do You Know the Warning Signs for Suicide?

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since Robin Williams decided to end his life at his seaside home in Marin County, California. Since then, a number of high-profile stars have also committed suicide: Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell and, most recently, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

But it’s not just a celebrity problem. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released figures last week showing a 25% increase in suicides between 1999 and 2016, with all states except Nevada experiencing a rise in the number of people taking their own lives.

The new figures -- and the deaths of Spade and Bourdain just days apart -- have prompted county health agencies to issue renewed warnings about mental health.

“Suicide can be prevented,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director of San Diego County’s Behavioral Health Services. “Depression knows no race, ethnic backgrounds or socioeconomic status. It’s important to know the warning signs and how to assist a suicidal person in need of help.”

Aguirre urged residents to monitor loved ones for signs of social isolation, drug or alcohol abuse, malaise or expressions of hopelessness, recent catastrophic events, and talk of self-harm or wanting to die.

“When a friend or a loved one comes to you for help, take it seriously. Ask if he or she is having thoughts of suicide or ending it all,” Aguirre said. “That simple conversation can help save a life.”

Shasta County officials have also stressed that suicide may be a preventable act. A list of warning signs is available on the county’s website

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact a trained crisis counselor by texting LISTEN to 741741 from your mobile phone.