Suicide calls show dramatic increase following Bourdain/Spade suicides

Updated: Jun. 8, 2018 at 6:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The number of people calling the La Frontera suicide hotline in Tucson has increased from 10 to 15 an hour, to one every minute in the past 48 hours.

Generally when there is a high profile suicide, the number of calls increases but according to mental health professionals, that's not a bad thing.

"The fact the person picked up the phone, and didn't skip that step (of calling) and instead went right to hurting themselves, is a good sign," said David Bradley, the Chief Development Officer for La Frontera.

There is a suicide in Arizona every seven hours which ranks the state 17th in the country. It is the 8th leading cause of death overall and the second leading cause among 18-24 year olds.

When high profile celebrities commit suicide, it creates a thought process which can be hard to overcome.

"It looks like that person had everything and I have nothing," said Bradley. "So they came to that conclusion, why shouldn't I."

He says it can be hard for the person with suicidal thoughts to not contemplate it when the celebrity suicide is "plastered" all over the place, especially with 24-hour television.

"I think the notion we are talking about it is great, and that's not the solution necessarily," he said. "But it's the main message, you've got to talk."

Cenpatico, an integrated health organization in Tucson, has just competed a long term, expensive outreach campaign on suicide, in part to ease the stigma associated with mental health issues.

"Understanding issues about mental health, crisis and suicide is the first step towards suicide prevention," suicide prevention counselor Julie Mack says in an ad which ran on KOLD-TV.

It's that understanding which may give some second thoughts about taking their life.

"The decision is final, there's nothing romantic about it," Bradley said. "It's a permanent solution to what is often a temporary problem."

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