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Suicide awareness on social media: helpful or harmful?

(Pixabay via MGN)

The deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are taking social media by storm. Talk of suicide awareness online can help people.

"A lot more people are thinking or talking about it now. Perhaps they might be telling people if they're feeling that way because they see the result of that. And they might be reading some stories about how the families feel and such," said licensed professional Counselor Sandy Quast.

But it can also trigger them, according to counselors.

"You might have some people who feel they've been thinking about it for a while and they did it, so why don't I just go ahead and do that," said Quast.

That is why Quast says to watch for signs of depression.

"They're making comments about it: feelings of loneliness, social isolation, maybe insomnia or sleeping all the time. If you see big differences in their weight, feelings of hopelessness, depression," said Quast.

And talk to someone about suicide instead of just posting about it.

"If you're thinking that's what's going on, definitely reach out and talk to somebody and let somebody know, some professional know, that could help them," said Quast.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the suicide rate in the state has jumped more than 38 percent between 1999 and 2016.

"I would guess that possibly, social media could be a playing a part in that because a lot of people are comparing themselves and their lives to other people," said Quast.

Quast says if someone tells you they are suicidal, do not push them away. Instead, be the one to keep them here.

The phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273- 8255.

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