When I sat down to write this letter, I was adamant about one thing: I did not want to discuss the celebrity suicides that broke news earlier this year. Referencing the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade seemed to suggest that celebrities make the subject of suicide more of-the-moment. Worthier of discussion. It could also support the flawed perception that mental illness and fame and fortune are mutually exclusive. When in fact, suicide and mental illness are issues that have been rampant in this country for centuries. And they do not discriminate.
Upon reflection, I have to acknowledge that celebrity suicides catapult an incentive central to mental health advocacy, which is to raise awareness. They challenge a larger population to discuss a critical subject long deemed taboo. And, according to the experts featured in this issue, the first step to effecting change in mental health is simply talking about it.
In editing this issue, I’ve learned that metro Detroiters are ready to have this conversation. Local mental health care agencies were quick to share the statistics on just how deeply metro Detroit is plagued with issues related to mental illnesses (page 68). A local yoga instructor recalls the effect suicide has on the victim’s loved ones (page 72). And despite having demanding schedules, hundreds of the distinguished physicians featured on the 2018 Top Docs List wrote in to share the ways in which patients with mental illnesses impact their specialties (page 82).
In the spirit of transparency, our editors have created a forum dedicated to the topic of mental health. If you or anyone you know is struggling with a mental illness or experiencing suicidal thoughts, please follow the doctors’ orders: Say something.