The suicide rate in the United States has risen at an alarming rate over the past 15 years as is reported in this Washington Post article. The report was issued just two days after the death of Kate Spade and on the same day as Anthony Bourdain’s. The most disturbing increase is among women. In most cases, known mental health conditions are a factor, but not all. As a society, we must learn to be more aware of people around us. Not all suicides are attempted by people who have mental illness.
Recently,in The Hill, this piece, written by Vinita Parkash, who is a fellow Public Voices Fellow at Yale University, highlights the suicide epidemic in health care. I often cite the Harvard/Stanford study which indicates 120,000 deaths annually which may be attributable to workplace stress. In the work I have done in workplace bullying, the suicide epidemic is not limited to healthcare.
The natural stresses created by the current culture of fear we live in is a major contributing factor. Financial woes are a major factor, as they are directly linked to our ability to survive. Perhaps because women are playing more of a role as breadwinners, their level of fear has increased, which explains the disproportionate rise of suicide in women.
In my book, ‘From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire’, I challenge those who work in toxic cultures to become witnesses, defenders and activists, never having to regret saying, “I could have deterred a suicide or attempted suicide”. Although I don’t have any evidence to prove it, I challenge whether the suicide rate has actually gone up. Because of the stigma attached to suicide, historically the cause of death was more often labelled died suddenly instead of registering them as suicides.