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Reach Out, Open The Conversation, Prevent Suicide

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- On Friday, news broke that celebrity chef, author and TV host Anthony Bourdain died by suicide.

Bourdain's direct, no-frills personality nourished the curiosity and sense of adventure in millions around the world. His passion inspired many to travel, try new foods and sparked conversation about culture and society.

His death by suicide, along with that of fashion icon Kate Spade, are factoring into an increased conversation about a topic that can be difficult to breach.

But it must be breached.

Compounding the urgency is the recent news that the Centers for Disease Control found suicide rates have increased 30 percent over the last two decades across the country. In Minnesota, they've increased by more than 40 percent.

As a resource to help better understand and start these difficult conversations, WCCO hosted a question and answer session with NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness Friday morning.

In it we learned, for a quarter of suicidal people, the time between the decision and action takes less than five minutes.

NAMI told us that deciding to reach out to someone is key in slowing down or stopping that thought process. Watch below for more advice on how specifically you can open that conversation.

A recent report found that suicide rates are rising in the U.S. Jason DeRusha is talking with Hayley Smith with NAMI Minnesota about what you need to know.

Posted by WCCO-TV | CBS Minnesota on Friday, June 8, 2018

Dr. Daniel Reidenberg, executive director of SAVE -- Suicide Awareness Voices of Education -- knows the terrible cost of not dealing with our mental health.

"We can't wait any longer," Reidenberg said. "These numbers tell us we can't ignore this anymore, we can't shove it aside that mental health isn't serious and doesn't impact all of us because it really does impact all of us."

Nationwide, 123 people a day die by suicide, taking nearly three times as many lives as homicide.

Lee Wolf Blum survived a suicide attempt in 24 year ago. Now the mental health practitioner noted author of "Brave Is The New Beautiful," and "Table In The Darkness," is helping others confront their fears.

"I still feel the stigma, I'm embarrassed that that happened to me," Blum said.

Now, the author and mental health practioner is helping others confront their fears, and ultimately understand that it is treatable.

"You can get out of depression and mental health," she said.

But she says we all need to be more aware of trouble, and more caring of those with irrational thoughts.

"If they say things like, 'I'm thinking of dying,' or, 'I have a plan,' you go take them, not just say you need to get help, you take them to the nearest hospital," Reidenberg said. "You call the suicide prevention line, you go with them and walk alongside them and be help for them."

Reidenberg says progress will start when the stigma stops.

"These are real, true illnesses, not something somebody made up, that somebody can decide to get over tomorrow, we might start making progress around it," Reidenberg said.

NAMI will be hosting free "Question, Persuade, Refer" workshops next week. Information on those classes is available for June 11 or June 14.

Here are some other resources:

  • Minnesota has had and will continue to have 24/7 crisis services available across the state, available both by phone and in person by calling the appropriate county crisis phone number. A list of numbers can be found at mn.state/dhs/crisis,
  • In the metro area, people in crisis can call **CRISIS (274747) from a mobile phone. This mobile phone service will soon be available statewide.
  • Crisis Text Line is a text-based crisis line available 24/7. Text MN to 741741.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will continue to be available without interruption at 800-273-TALK (8255).
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