The Problem With The Hotline

img_8277 Trigger warning- suicide, depression

Over the past week, notable figures Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were both found dead, due to suicide.

Suicide rates in the United States have increased by 25% since 1999, according to the CDC.

In 1999, Kate Spade received an award widely known as the “Shoe Oscar” in the fashion world, the Launch of the Year title at the Footwear News Achievement Awards. 6 years after starting her company with her husband Andy Spade, and launching six simple, yet elegant handbags, Spade was getting great feedback as her brand was expanding into footwear.

In 1999, Anthony Bourdain’s piece “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” was published in the April 19th issue of The New Yorker. He details the ins and outs of the restaurant, from the cleanliness, to “amateur nights”, to the foreigners who find final refuge in the professional kitchen. The closing line of the piece is simply, “I have come home.”

Just shy of twenty years later, both of these people were found dead, due to suicide.

The odds that you or a loved one or a stranger will kill themselves has changed dramatically since these two people were just beginning to achieve their “fame and fortune”. But, as demonstrated time and time and time again, the money and the credibility and the status which come with being “famous” do not equate to happiness, or even mere satisfaction. The odds do not change just because of the number of digits in a bank account, or the kinds of cars in a garage, or the number of people who know your name.

Suicide is something that has grown so common in our world today that our first and only instinct is to tweet our condolences and drop the suicide hotline and forget about the situation entirely. Chances are, many people will not care about the loss of these people in a week. But, as it turns out, you and I have got to be the ones to care.

Ask anyone who has had suicidal thoughts in the past and they will probably tell you about how they could not bring themselves to get help. People who are so deep in the darkness of depression are not going to willingly call a number and talk to a complete stranger over the phone, because they cannot see past this wall of “It does not get better from here.” Often times, these people do not even realize just how affected they are until someone else notices it first, and confronts them about it.

Do not just tweet a phone number. Do not just say to “get help”. That is not the way, because it is not that simple for those suffering from depression, or whatever they may be dealing with. The least you could do for those around you who are struggling is to be the help they need. Check in on your friends- and not just the ones who explicitly talk about having a hard time. Check in on your cool friends. Check in on your strong friends. Check in on your friends who you have no idea about what is going on in their heads, just to be safe.

There is not much to it but to be considerate and kind. You do not have to do seemingly incredible things to be incredible. Being a force to reckon with in this world does not consist of feeling above everyone; it consists of being there, for and with everyone.