The recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have brought a major public health problem from the shadows to the forefront of public discussion: in almost every state in the U.S., suicide rates have risen 25% – 30% over the past 20 years.
There are no quick and simple answers as to why some people who suffer financial setbacks or family disruptions take their lives. Researchers are also still trying to understand why some people who’ve suffered for years with clinical depression take their lives, while others do not.
There are a few key factors that many doctors and researchers point to, however, according to a recent New York Times article:
* Depression, especially if untreated
* Inadequate mental health care systems
* Easy access to guns
* Aggressive marketing of opioids
* Erosion of financially stable jobs
* Disruption of traditional social networks

This last factor might be the one we can most directly tackle on our own: the need for face-to-face social networks. “The social scientists Christopher Lasch and Robert Putnam [point to] influences that have corroded the fabric of local everyday life — the block parties, church meetings, family barbecues and civic groups that once bound people together.
We assume “the kids” are the ones addicted to social media, but they’re telling us different.
“Honestly, I sometimes truly wish that ‘tools’ such as the iPhone (or any smartphone), laptops, iPads, tablets, etc. hadn’t been invented. Sure, they’re great, incredibly useful, and fun time-killers. But the way teenagers abuse them, and turn them into mini social control rooms is frankly awful.”
Why do I pay close attention to this issue? In part because I’m called on as an ICF-certified coach to be very careful in distinguishing between coaching issues and problems that require a medical professional or licensed therapist. I also believe we have good research showing that, while it brings many positives to our lives, we’re just now sorting out the negative impacts of new technologies on our minds, bodies, and work performance.
However difficult in today’s busy world, it’s worth it in every way to spend time and energy building old-fashioned social networks.