A new CDC study shows a dramatic uptick in suicide

Within one week, fashion icon Kate Spade and chef-turned-TV-host Anthony Bourdain both committed suicide, shortly following rock superstar Chester Bennington. The statistics reveal the hard truth: America, undoubtedly, is in a mental health crisis.

“There is no health without mental health.” – World Health Organization In 2017, the United States recorded over 45,000 suicides—that number is over 200% the number of homicides, including gun homicides. To unpack these statistics, it’s important to acknowledge the complexity of suicide.

The CDC highlights possible causes as the increasingly pervasive opioid addiction or the Great Recession a few years ago. Further, the omnipresence of handguns in households have undoubtedly made suicide attempts more successful, perhaps contributing to the startlingly higher rates.

However, high-profile suicides have become more and more common, too. Within one week, fashion icon Kate Spade and chef-turned-TV-host Anthony Bourdain both committed suicide, shortly following rock superstar Chester Bennington. The statistics reveal the hard truth: America, undoubtedly, is in a mental health crisis. As the 10thleading cause of death in America, mental health ought to be treated like any other invasive, highly symptomatic disease: neglecting to do so is no different than ignoring heart disease, cancer, and similarly deadly diseases. Depression may be the truly silent killer—a stigmatized, truly invisible one.

What’s worse, healthcare has become a politicized issue. One of the most fervent debates in Congress, to this day, is America’s healthcare plan. The viciously controversial Affordable Care Act, more widely known as Obamacare, provided a strong Medicaid expansion that made strides forward in mental health protection, considering over “40 percent of Medicaid recipients have behavioral health conditions.”

President Trump’s proposed cuts to this Medicaid expansion would “devastate this critical source of coverage for mental health,” illustrating a potentially dangerous double bind: as suicide rates appear to be worsening, coverage for the causes is disappearing. This isn’t to say that we haven’t done anything.

Non-profits worldwide are actively raising awareness for mental health, and rapper Logic’s Grammy-nominated hit song 1-800-273-8255 has widened the audience for the National Suicide Hotline. But the devastating truth of the matter is: mental health cannot be political, stigmatized, or a second-rate health concern. We still have a lot to do to fix our mental health standards—before it becomes a larger public health crisis.

Grace Jin

Grace Jin is a student at Yale University. She’s a multi-time national champion in debate and is passionate about intersectional politics from the perspective of Generation Z.