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Study: High-profile suicides can sometimes be 'contagious'

Anthony Bourdain (file photo)

Studies have shown suicides can sometimes be "contagious" in a way, with rates increasing after a high-profile suicide.

The department of health calls the phenomena "suicide contagion."

Dr. Dara Bushman, a clinical psychologist, says a major problem in the fight against suicide is the stigma associated with mental health.

“If they were to talk about their concerns of depression or anxiety, they are often thought of as being weak or less than and that is keeping people from asking the help that they need,” Bushman said.

Across the country, suicide rates have increased in every state except Nevada since 1999 to 2016. Florida’s rate up is up between 5 percent and 20 percent, according to the CDC.

“Suicide happens with people who are rich, people who are poor, all races, creeds, it’s happening with everybody," Bushman said.

Bushman says when celebrities commit suicide, it creates a catastrophic effect.

“Because people look up to people in the spotlight, celebrities, and they will feel a sense of hopelessness knowing that if they can’t figure it out with the resources and the finances that they have, what’s available for them," she said. "So this is very concerning, very concerning."

While the suicide rating is climbing for the country, it is spiking among women by up to 30 percent, according to the CDC.

“There is a lot more pressure on women, we’ve taken on a lot of roles and we continue to do the same roles that we were doing prior and it feels that if we were to ask for help as a woman, that is a sign of weakness," Bushman said. "Suicide is a very serious issue, but the stigma that is involved with it is just awful."

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal behavior, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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