Mental health expert: It’s time to start talking about suicide

June 8, 2018

As communities mourn the recent loss of public figures Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, Multnomah County reminds residents there is hope and we are here to listen.

Mandy Kubisch is the suicide prevention coordinator for Multnomah County. She says the recent deaths of Bourdain and Spade are causing national conversations about suicide. It’s common to experience painful emotions when suicide affects people who we are familiar with or close to.

“These are two people that a lot of people identify with for many reasons, and it’s natural to feel grief and loss around that,” Kubisch says. “It’s important to notice and watch for how it’s impacting you. If it’s affecting you to a point where everyday life feels difficult, it’s time to seek out additional help.”

Suicide affects people from all walks of life. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control announced national suicide rates have increased more than 25 percent since 1999. Suicide is now one of the top 10 most common causes of death in the United States. Common signs include:

  • Changes in mood or behavior

  • Talking about killing oneself

  • Giving away prized possessions

  • Increased drug or alcohol use

With suicide rates on the rise, Kubisch urges people to talk about mental health more openly. Stigma prevents people from talking about difficult emotions with each other, she says. To help people learn more about mental health and suicide, the County offers free classes to the public. Anyone can register by visiting the Get Trained To Help website.

“We need to be willing and able to ask the question, ‘Are you thinking of killing yourself?’” Kubisch says. “Talking more about suicide is one of the most important things we can do to prevent people from suffering in silence.”

Multnomah County urges those who are struggling to seek help. Call the Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center at (503) 988-4888. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.