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Know the warning signs of mental health

June 8, 2018 | By Jackie Orozco

People around the world are mourning the death of Anthony Bourdain. The celebrity, award winning TV chef was found dead in his hotel room in France Friday morning. He was found by a friend and the death appears to be a suicide. He was 61 years old.

His death comes just days after another celebrity, fashion designer Kate Spade, died from suicide. It’s bringing suicide to the fore front of a national discussion.

“Events like this when celebrities take their lives, really it’s a mixed bag. There can be a tendency for imitation events associated with that. That is something we saw after the death of Robin Williams a few years ago but on a more positive note it creates a forum for us to discuss suicide and discuss the options that are available for people who are having suicidal thoughts,” said Doctor Mark Hurst, the Medical Director with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

“There is hope, there’s always hope, there are organizations like NAMI that you can go to,” said the program coordinator at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, also known as NAMI, Laurita Barber.

Barber helps people who are at their lowest point and knows firsthand how to help because she’s been in their shoes.

“What happened when I was 8 after my father and mother divorced I lived with my mother and she ended up abandoning me in an empty apartment and moved out of town and I had to live with my grandmother so that was my first suicide attempt,” said Barber.

She attempted several times as an adult too until faith stepped in.

“Divine intervention, it has to be what it is,” said Barber.

A new federal report by the Centers for Disease Control shows that Ohio’s suicide rate went up by 36-percent from 1999 to 2016. It’s up across the country too.

“We had 1,706 suicides in 2016 so that amounts to about 5 per day in Ohio. We are not the worst state in the country, we’re not the best either,” said Dr. Hurst. “It’s a combination of a mental illness or an addictive disorder and then adverse life events that happens super imposed on that.”

So what are the warning signs?

“People feel hopeless, people feel like they don’t have a future, we see increase rate in drug abuse,” said Dr. Hurst.

Dr. Hurst said there’s no easy solution but there is help and it starts by talking to each other.

“It’s really important to ask them how they’re doing and to not be hesitant to ask if they’re having suicidal thoughts and if there’s something you can help them with,” he said.

For Barber, a little faith can go a long way.

“When I realized that everything that I have gone through is something that other people can use, I can give strength to other people by letting them know that you can make it out of these situations that’s when the lightbulb came on for me,” said Barber.

Studies have shown that the risk of suicide goes down when people call the national suicide hotline which is 1-800-273-TALK you can also text “HOME” to 741-741.

If you would like more information about the free programs at NAMI contact Averi Frost at 614-636-0742 or

You can also call toll-free for Ohio Wellness at 1-877-275-6364 or

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