Mental health professionals react to tWitch’s shocking suicide

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — People across the country were left shocked after the suicide of popular DJ and dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss. The man who outwardly seemed to be a pillar of happiness.

His shocking suicide has also left mental health professionals in Rhode Island sounding the alarm on the mental health crisis in the United States.

“This is a perfect storm in Rhode Island right now,” said John Tassoni, CEO of the Substance Use and Mental Health Leadership Council of Rhode Island. “We’re getting hit from every angle we can get hit by and I don’t know what to do.”

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, more than 45,000 Americans died by suicide in 2020, and about 1.2 million attempted to take their life.

“The numbers of people that have completed suicide are higher than they’ve ever been,” said Dr. Kevin E. Baill, the medical director of outpatient services at Butler hospital in Providence.

Butler has also seen this concerning rise in suicide totals, according to Dr. Baill, the average daily inpatient total at the psychiatric hospital is 170.

tWitch’s death has shined a light on mental health issues across the nation, especially so, as the celebrity, who was seemingly happy to everyone on the outside, had posted uplifting videos of himself dancing with his wife and kids on social media in the days leading up to his death.

“I think we’re at that tipping point,” Tassoni said. “We’re at the tipping point of the health care system.”

Tassoni is also a former District 22 state senator, who represented Smithfield and North Smithfield and urged state leaders to make a change.

He also added it shouldn’t take a high-profile celebrity’s death for things to change.

Baill, agreed, saying the conversation around mental health needs to continue.

“Exposure to people that have completed suicide is another risk,” Baill said. “But, I think speaking openly and in a knowledgeable way about the problem can only help us to shed more light.”

The national suicide prevention hotline 988 is a toll-free number, where anyone can call and speak with a mental health professional.

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