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Help is at hand if you feel suicidal

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Tragic death: celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain died last week (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

Help is available for people with suicidal thoughts, mental health experts said yesterday.

Bermuda Hospitals Board psychologists Cherita Rayner and Shawnee Basden also emphasised the importance of discussions about suicide.

Dr Rayner said: “The recent reports of the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain from suicidal acts reminds us that we can all be vulnerable to suicidal thoughts.

“It is important for the community to know that if they experience suicidal thoughts, or know of someone experiencing suicidal thoughts, help is available.

She added: “Please talk honestly and openly about suicidal thoughts. Encourage the person to get help from a mental health professional.”

She was speaking after the suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain this month.

Dr Basden said: “It’s important to know that people don’t have to be depressed to feel suicidal.

“Having thoughts about suicide can happen with or without the presence of a mental illness.

She added: “It is important to take it seriously when someone talks about thoughts of suicide.”

Dr Rayner said: “In Bermuda, completed suicide does not appear to be as common as in other jurisdictions.”

There were 16 deaths attributed to suicide between 2006 and 2015.

Dr Rayner said people in need of help should contact the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, a GP or a clinical psychologist.

She added: “If you have immediate concerns about someone’s safety, the person can be taken to the emergency department at KEMH or the police can be contacted.”

BHB has also created a video, shared on its Facebook page, that was designed to offer advice on how people can broach the subject with friends they fear may be vulnerable.

The video said: “If you are worried a friend is contemplating suicide find an appropriate time and place and ask.

“Asking someone if they are considering suicide won’t encourage them to do it. It gives them the opportunity to say, ‘Yes’.

“And you have time to listen and help your friend find a professional to talk to.”

Chris Gibbons, whose 25-year-old daughter Jessica took her life in 2016, said the deaths of Ms Spade and Mr Bourdain had sparked more discussion about suicide in Bermuda. Mr Gibbons, a founding member of support group Losing Someone by Suicide, added: “Sadly, suicide never loses its shock value and celebrity suicides always get a lot of coverage.

“It invariably leads to more discussions about suicide, not just in Bermuda but around the world.”

But he added that the news of any suicide can also bring back painful memories for families who have lost loved ones.

Mr Gibbons said: “However, it also encourages me to work even harder at raising awareness and helping in any way I can those who have suffered a similar experience.”

Mr Gibbons added that World Health Organisation statistics showed that Ms Spade and Mr Bourdain’s deaths will be just two of about 800,000 people who will die from suicide this year.

He said many people do not realise the scale of the problem.

He highlighted statistics from the WHO and Samaritans, which show that suicide is the leading cause of death in the UK among men under 45 and the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds around the world.

Mr Gibbons added: “For those who are contemplating suicide, please talk to someone. Now. However despairing you may feel, I believe there is always help, hope and love.

If you experience a mental health crisis — there is always help. You can walk into the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute for immediate attention Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm. Out of hours you can call the MWI Resource Line at 236-3770 or go to the Emergency Department at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. The Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute offers mental health first aid training for people who want to help those with a mental health problem and refer them to professional help. For more information, visit the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute page at bermudahospitals.bm