In this Oct. 11, 2012 file photo, Anthony Bourdain attends "On The Chopping Block: A Roast of Anthony Bourdain" in New York. Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" series, a culinary travelogue, swiftly became CNN's top-rated series since debuting last April, a bright spot at a place that was in a severe dry spell before the missing Malaysian plane kicked up ratings. A new eight-episode season begins Sunday, April 13, 2014, at 9 p.m. EDT. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP Images, File)

Two prominent Americans lost their lives to suicide last week, causing the nation to pause and reflect on the reasons why.

Not just why fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain both took their lives, but why so many other Americans are committing suicide at crisis-level proportions, regardless of race, gender or economic status.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines suicide as a large and growing public health problem in the U.S. and responsible for nearly 45,000 deaths in 2016. The CDC equates that to one death every 12 minutes. It is the second-leading cause of death for people 10 to 34 years of age, and the fourth-leading cause for those between the ages of 35 to 45.

African Americans are greatly affected as well, despite past beliefs that suicide was not a serious problem in the African-American community. In a recent article published in the Atlanta Black Star, Dr. Jeffrey Bridge of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital quotes a 2015 study that shows a significant increase over the past decade in suicides among African-American boys between the ages of 5 and 11.

CDC researchers report that they cannot point to any one cause for the increase in suicide rates, but it has determined that mental illness in many cases is not a factor and that factors including gun ownership, opioid addiction and the economy are factors.

In this time of social media consuming much of our lives, it is apparent that social contact is subsiding. People are not in touch as much as they should be and the signs of depression that lead to harm not only to oneself but also to others are not being addressed.

We urge our readers to take note of the suicide warning signs and to seek help from a medical professional or by calling the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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