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Calls To Suicide Hotlines Rise Sharply After Celebrity Deaths

Last week’s deaths of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade have led to a significant increase in calls and text messages to suicide prevention organizations, the groups said.

The Crisis Text Line, which invites people to communicate with a crisis counselor for free by texting 741-741, said it saw a 115-percent increase in volume from Friday to Sunday, compared with the weekend before. 

“The top two emotions texters discussed were scared and pained,” Liz Eddy, Crisis Text Line’s director of communications, told HuffPost. The group also provides counseling to those in the U.S. who send messages through its Facebook page.

Television personality Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade both died last week in reported suicides.


Television personality Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade both died last week in reported suicides.

Crisis Text Line said it saw a 9-percent rise in contacts from people ages 25 to 54, who are likely familiar with Spade and Bourdain. 

There was a similar jump in requests for help after the deaths of Linkin Park musician Chester Bennington in July 2017 and comedian Robin Williams in 2014, Eddy said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, whose phone number (1-800-273-8255) had been widely broadcast and shared on social media in the wake of Spade and Bourdain’s deaths, said calls increased 25 percent on Thursday and Friday from the week before. 

“The Lifeline has been proven to de-escalate moments of crisis and help people find hope,” Frances Gonzalez, the director of communication, told USA Today of her organization, which offers free and confidential emotional support to people in crisis or distress.

The group’s director, John Draper, said people often feel connected to celebrities. Their deaths can cause a “collective sense of loss that many people feel,” he told The Wall Street Journal.

The Lifeline’s number is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will connect callers to trained counselors located at more than 150 crisis centers.

“The research is really clear that these calls have been shown to reduce emotional distress and suicidal crisis,” Draper said.

Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, which works to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, also emphasized that connection.

“We need to have people understand that just because there was a high profile death by suicide it doesn’t mean it has to be your outcome, too,” Reidenberg told USA Today.

Those wanting to volunteer to help can contact Crisis Text Line or The Lifeline through either organization’s website.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

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