Kate Spade’s death spotlights dangerous trend

Designer Kate Spade’s death earlier this week highlights a shocking trend across the USA – a Center for Disease Control (CDC) report datelined tomorrow shows half of all states have seen their suicide rate increase by more than 30% over less than twenty years.  Only six states did not see a significant increase over the period 1999-2016.  According to a May 2018 report from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIHM), suicide ranks as the #2 cause of death for Americans 10 – 34 years old, #3 for those age 35-54 &  #8 for ages 55-64.

What could account for an extreme spike in suicide rates in such a relatively short time?  Kate Spade’s death was less of a shock when I learned that she was apparently chronically depressed -and- her husband had recently moved out of their apartment & reportedly asked for a divorce.  But 54% of all suicides turn out to be people without a previous history of mental illness.  Other reported mega risk factors include relationship problems, substance abuse, health problems & physical debility,  job problems & financial difficulties, or sudden, even anticipated crises.

Here I go, jumping into the debate with my own two cents.

 Isolation is considered at epidemic levels in the USA.  Fewer & fewer people have close friends with whom to open up with problems.   Neighbors are less likely to develop friendships than a generation ago, when fast friendships formed chatting over backyard fences or serving on PTA committees, at water coolers at a long-term job & bowling leagues.

Our culture is increasingly uncivil & intensely divisive.

Young people are tagged as “snowflakes” – less resilient than earlier generations, more likely to avoid emotional issues, disagreements & discussions presenting different points of view.  And while it’s true the suicide rate for white children & teens, 10-17, went up 70% between 2006 & 2016, it feels like they’re getting a bum rap, because I see that tendency to cocoon from dissent ranging across all ages.

I look forward to reading practical articles based on the current CDC report.  The reported jaw-dropping spike in suicides is, sadly, hardly unexpected.  For decades, we’ve seen loss after loss – – of community, of stable family connection, of deep friendships & strong marriages, of access to elder wisdom & youthful energies – – of the very things that helped keep us anchored over the millennia.

Are the increase in suicides connected in some way to the rise in meanness across America, in divisiveness & demonizing?  Is it simplistic to say we need to restore kindness & courtesy, civility & a willingness to respect others?  To stop doing the things that have been proven to harm us & start doing ones that help & nurture?

How do we reduce the spike in suicides?  Return to a human nature that valued people more than machines, that sought for common ground & considered politeness a virtue.

I’ve no doubt that Kate Spade’s death & the CDC’s report on the rise of suicide will result in much-needed discussion around the shocking spike.  But will it bring any change?  I, for one, am not going to sit around, waiting to see.  I have a thing or two to say on the topic of turning around our increasingly toxic culture & I aim to say ’em!


If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ~  1-800-273-TALK (8255) ~ is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 



Author: auntdeev

playfulness coach, life enthusiast & general instigator, ENTJ, cat lover

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