Study: Suicide rates nationwide increased 25 percent since 1999

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade as well as celebrity chef and award-winning journalist Anthony Bourdain are bringing attention to an important issue.

"Suicide could affect any of us. It could be you or me, it could be any of us," Jason McCown, director of behavioral health at St. Francis Hospital, said.

A new study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called suicide a national health problem.

New research shows suicide rates rose in nearly every state across the country, increasing more than 25 percent in the U.S. since 1999.

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network said an average of three people die by suicide every day in the state.

"Many suicidal people don't actually want to harm themselves, however they're just not able to see through the problems and the issues they're dealing with currently," McCown said.

McCown wants more people to engage in conversation about suicide.

"Suicide touches everyone. It's across all age, all economic, all socioeconomic, just everything that you could imagine. You could not pick out a group and say, 'oh, she's going to commit suicide,'" he said.

McCown also said it's important to recognize potential warning signs, including isolation, agitation, anger, alcohol and drug use, or changes in sleep patterns.

If you're worried about a loved one, be very direct and sympathetic yet non-judgmental.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of ending your life, contact the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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