Expert: Celebrity suicides may lead to uptick in suicide rates

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The deaths by suicide of celebrities like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain can trigger copycat suicides, a Santa Clara County health official warns.

Two celebrity deaths this week have saddened many: Kate Spade on Tuesday and Anthony Bourdain today.

Mental health experts say when a famous person dies by suicide it can have a startling impact.

After Robin Williams' death in 2014, suicide rates went up 10 percent.

RELATED: What to do if you suspect someone is suicidal

"When there are a lot of stories about a previous suicide and they give details, there's research that shows it causes a trigger for copycat suicides and that may be the case here," said Joy Alexiou, the spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Health System. She's urging the media to be careful with what they say.

Guidelines include not reporting the details of the death and watching your words. It's better to say someone "died by suicide," for example, rather than "committed suicide." "Because the word 'commit,' you 'commit a crime,' you 'commit a sin,' and it adds a stigma to mental health issues. And always to provide the resources where people can go who are feeling depressed or suicidal."

ALLIES IN ACTION: Get help with mental health issues

For more resources for mental health issues, go to our Allies in Action section.

If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

IN MEMORIAM: Celebrities and notable figures who have recently passed away
Related Topics:
healthdepressionfamous deathfamous deathssuicidemental healthcelebrity deathsSanta Clara
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