Today the world lost a legend. This morning reports came flooding in that ‘Soul Train’ creator and icon Don Cornelius was found dead in his home with a gun shot to the head from an apparent suicide. Further details as to why this tragic event may have occurred or if a note was left behind have not been revealed, however, after a sentence of three years’ probation for spousal battery, followed by a rocky and public divorce in 2009 and multiple health issue, many have speculated that Cornelius may have been depressed.

While we may never know the exact reason, it is important to understand that Don Cornelius is not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

“Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths. The overall rate was 11.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.”

You never know someone’s private struggle and if you suspect that you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide it is important that you know that there are other options and help is available. Here are a few of the warning signs:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs, seek help immediately by contacting a mental health professional or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Emotional and mental pain is very real, but it is important that those suffering know that they are not alone, that they are loved and that help is available.

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