Experts warn of increase in suicides after Kate Spade's death

Experts warn of increase in suicides after Kate Spade's death

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Experts warn that fashion designer Kate Spade's suicide could trigger a number of others to follow suit. 

"We see a rise in suicide anytime there's a celebrity that takes their life to suicide," said Sharron Davis. Executive Director of Contact Lubbock, Inc, a suicide prevention group in Lubbock.


"What I read recently was a 112 percent increase in two months after her death by suicide," Davis said.

Most recently suicides rose nearly 10 percent in the months following Robin Williams' death in 2014. 

Attempts involving the method Williams used also spiked, up 32 percent over that same time. 

A study by Columbia University suggests new coverage of the actors death may play a role in the up ticks.

"Even with Marilyn Monroe that was the story for weeks. And again, I'm not really sure that I know the answer but speculation that it almost makes it OK."

This is just part of a much larger trend nationwide. According to a new study by the CDC, since 1999, rates have increased by more than 25 percent, 19 percent in Texas.

The majority of the suicides coming from men. 

"We do know that more and more people are having these types of thoughts and people are struggle with mental illness," said Brittany Todd, Director of Risk, Intervention, Safety and Education (RISE) at Texas Tech.

Todd said as a society, if we're going to tackle this issue, we must use events like Spade's death to create an atmosphere where those suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts can seek help.

"It's not something we shouldn't talk about. It's definitely something we should be talking about. Something we should be reminding people like, if you're having these thoughts, if something like this is happening, that's scary, that's not OK. Lets get you some help, lets do what we need to do and relieve some of that stigma because we do know that more and more people are having these thoughts and that people are struggling with mental illness."

Relieving that stigma begins with a simple conversation.

"It's easy to recognize when someone isn't acting like themselves and when you get in one of those situations where you recognize a group of friends or family or even an individual that someone is kind of acting different or not being themselves, telling them, I recognize that there's something different. Is there something I can do to help you? Are there some resources I can connect you with."

Just in Lubbock there are numerous resources you can direct someone for help, such as Contact Lubbock. The Suicide Hotline can also help, you can reach them at 1-800-765-8393 or you can reach the National Talk Line at 1-800-273-8255.

As far as what to look for;

  • Talking about wanting to die or feeling hopeless, lacking purpose, being in pain or being a burden;
  • Cutting or any type of self-injury;
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;
  • Anxiety;
  • Displaying rage, recklessness or extreme mood swings;
  • Isolation;
  • Cyberbullying and other bullying;
  • Cutting off social media.

"Suicide is a very permanent choice to a very temporary situation," Davis said. "Talking about it truly can change everything. Is it easy, no, but it's the most courageous thing any of us can do."

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