(WVUE) - Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. That's according to a local mental health prevention agency.
Today, Biff Hitchins loves his job as a counselor helping people in need. But the 33-year-old faced years of dark times.
"It just got so bad that I personally wanted to end it, it was just terrible," Hitchins explained.
Living with depression, Hitchins admits it was often hard to see beyond the haze, and he contemplated suicide many times.
He comments, "My faith helped me lean on that but also really supportive family."
With the suicide deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this week, experts say intense news coverage can often negatively impact people already on edge.
Lisa Romback, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness says "Oftentimes, seeing someone in the spotlight lose their life to suicide is something that can trigger other individuals."
Which is why Romback urges people who have loved ones facing depression to make sure to check on them, and if they see anything amiss, act immediately.
"If you know someone who is struggling or showing signs or symptoms, never leave that individual alone, access care, help them connect to a mental health professional if possible," Romback said.
While it may seem shocking to the general public that two celebrities took their lives, within days of each other, Romback points out, suicide statistics are much higher than most think.
She explains, "Tenth leading cause in the United States, and 2nd leading cause of death for adolescents."
Hitchins considers himself lucky that he didn't go through with taking his life. For others struggling right now, he offers this advice.
"You really should just think about what's really important in your life and then also all of the people that would be left behind like your family, your loved ones," Hitchins said.
If you or someone you love is thinking about suicide, there is a national suicide prevention hotline available 24-hours a day, to provide support and resources. The number is 1-800-273-8255. Or you can text "home" to 741741.