The recent deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain have cast a spotlight on a jarring spike in suicides worldwide and on the importance of confronting the issue.
More than 800,000 commit suicide annually around the world and suicide is listed as the second highest cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 29, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the United States, 45,000 people took their own lives in 2016, a worrisome increase of nearly 30 percent since 1999.
"It is difficult to explain, but this may be due in part to the opioid epidemic and economic factors that may have a stronger impact in the US than other developed countries because we do not have as comprehensive a protective health and social safety net as most European countries," said David Brent, a psychiatry professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
Richard Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry, said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times that "the prevalence of suicide has fluctuated over time, often rising during periods of social strife" as was the case in 1932, during the Great Depression.
Developing countries most affected
Countries driven by conflict, such as Sri Lanka, are among the most affected, while South Korea and Japan are on the top of the list of industrialised countries dealing with high suicide rates.
Someone who has experienced war, a natural disaster, violence or sexual abuse has a higher likelihood of committing suicide, according to the World Health Organization.
In France, the suicide rate has plunged by 26 percent over the last 15 years to 10,000 a year, but remains one of the highest in Europe.
While the recent deaths of Spade and Bourdain have cast the spotlight on suicide in developed countries, the WHO says that more than three quarters of suicides take place in developing countries.