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The recent passing of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain reminds us to take mental illness seriously. Many of us feel uncomfortable to ask when someone in distress is suicidal for fear we are putting this thought in their minds. This is not true. It is a myth that asking about suicide increases the risk of suicide. The most common mental illness is depression. Some people are genetically predisposed to depression and therefore knowing the family history of past generations can be very useful. It may not be that your parents were affected by depression instead could be your grandparents, aunts, or uncles.

What are some of the warning signs to look for? Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt oneself, looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, pills, talking or writing about death, feelings of rage, sleeping too much or too little, feeling anxious, depression (especially untreated depression) withdrawing from family and friends, history of abuse or trauma, agitation, experiencing mood changes, loss of interest in school activities, loss of interest in daily activities, feeling excessive guilt or shame, feeling hopeless and helpless, feeling trapped, and increase in alcohol or drug use.

Unfortunately, untreated mental illness including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and others can lead to suicide. Oftentimes we can dismiss ongoing depression as situational however, when it begins to interrupt with our daily living, and we exhibit the warning signs, it is time to seek professional treatment. Negative life experiences can trigger suicidal thoughts such as death of a loved one, divorce/separation, a serious illness, a terminal illness, chronic physical pain, sexual , physical or verbal abuse, legal or financial problems, to name a few.

If you or someone you know is having a difficult time, do not handle it alone, immediately seek help by calling 911 or The National Suicide Hotline 1-800 SUICIDE. With the proper treatment and support it is possible to begin to feel better.

At the Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, NJ, we have a team of licensed professionals available day, evening and weekend hours. Call us at 908-322-0112 or visit us on FB.

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