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Suicides remind us that forms of mental illness are real diseases

Dr. Veita Bland / June 15, 2018

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides confidential one on one support 24 hours a day.
Their number is (800) 273-8255.

The media has been ablaze as we observe how the nation’s suicide rate is climbing. Patients tell me they cannot understand how successful individuals like fashion designer Kate Spade and renown author, chef and world traveler Anthony Bourdain – people with great wealth and status- could end their lives by committing suicide. “What were they thinking,” was the response many had. My response was “What were they feeling?”

Obviously, having money and fame is not the issue here. These famous people unfortunately were in pain from depression and saw no way out. As many have said, they sought a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Spade and Bourdain are not alone as we have seen the number of suicides increase in all demographics. All ages, all races, all social groups, all sexual orientation and all financial groups have seen this increase. This trend has been coming for a while and the CDC-P, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been reporting this. Their analysis of the facts has not been getting the spotlight the way the recent suicides have done.

What can you do to help? One is to be vigilant of those in your family or tribe. If you see behavior that is worrisome, act now to prevent a negative outcome. You may not see the obvious signs of someone giving away their valuables but look for changes in behavior. Spending wildly, demonstrating risky behavior in other ways are signs. Take notice of those who have isolated themselves. If you do not hear or see someone who was once always present, do not be afraid to inquire as to what may be going on. That simple act of showing you care and you want them in your life could save a life.

It is so easy to be isolated, especially since the creation of with social media. Research has shown there is a correlation with an increased usage of social media and a decrease in self-esteem and an increase in depression in the youth. How do adults engage kids with more face to face activities and experiences and decrease their online screen time?

One of the problems is that so many people who need help are not getting help. You may need to offer to help them find mental health assistance. Offer to accompany them to get such health assistance. In this age when so many people live solitary lives, be willing to get involved.

The pain of mental illness is real. For some, the shame of admitting there is a problem may be greater. There is no shame here. Depression and other forms of mental illness are as real a disease as hypertension and diabetes and should be seen as such. Medications and therapies exist for both. Avail yourself and those in your family and tribe to them. Remember as it has been said many times, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has confidential one on one support 24 hours a day. Their number is (800) 273-8255.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Email Dr. Bland at


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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