Suicide rates increasing locally, and across U.S.

June 15th, 2018

Health Commissioner: “It’s important for everyone to self-screen, reduce stigma”

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (06/15/2018) – Local public health officials are seeing an alarming increase in suicides in Allen County.  Since 2014, data shows the rates have gone up by 50 percent.  According to information collected from Allen County death certificates, in 2017, 75 people killed themselves.  The average age of those who took their own life last year: 44.

  2014 2015 2016 2017
Number of Deaths 50 60 52 75
Average Age 43 47 40 44
Age Range 14-80 16-91 15-88 13-103
Number of those 25-years-old and under 10 10 16 15
Males 78% 73% 69% 81%
Females 22% 27% 31% 19%

“There are several organizations in our community doing great things to help improve access to mental health services; however, healthcare professionals, counselors, public health experts, and the media need to intensify their efforts to address this crisis and reduce the stigma of mental health,” Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan said.

Allen County is not alone in seeing this worrisome trend of increasing suicide rates.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S.  Rates have increased in all but two states since 1999.  The CDC’s report shows Indiana’s rate has increased by nearly 32 percent, while the national average rose to about 25% (https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/suicide/).  According to the CDC, more than half of Americans who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

What can we do to prevent suicide?
Information courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

The Federal government is…

  • Tracking the problem to describe trends, circumstances, and populations at greatest risk (for example, see cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nvdrs).
  • Developing, implementing, and evaluating suicide prevention strategies.
  • Working with local, state, tribal, national, and other partners to provide guidance and distribute suicide prevention tools (for example, see https://go.usa.gov/xQBGc).

States and communities can…

  • Identify and support people at risk of suicide.
  • Teach coping and problem-solving skills to help people manage challenges with relationships, jobs, health, or other concerns.
  • Promote safe and supportive environments. This includes safely storing medications and firearms to reduce access among people at risk.
  • Offer activities that bring people together so they feel connected and not alone.
  • Connect people at risk to effective and coordinated mental and physical healthcare.
  • Expand options for temporary assistance for those struggling to make ends meet.
  • Prevent future risk of suicide among those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Health care systems can…

  • Provide high quality, ongoing care focused on patient safety and suicide prevention.
  • Make sure affordable and effective mental and physical healthcare is available where people live.
  • Train providers in adopting proven treatments for patients at risk of suicide.

Employers can…

  • Promote employee health and well-being, support employees at risk, and have plans in place to respond to people showing warning signs.
  • Encourage employees to seek help, and provide referrals to mental health, substance use disorder, legal, or financial counseling services as needed.

Everyone can…

  • Ask someone you are worried about if they’re thinking about suicide.
  • Keep them safe. Reduce access to lethal means for those at risk.
  • Be there with them. Listen to what they need.
  • Help them connect with ongoing support like the Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
  • Follow up to see how they’re doing.
  • Find out how this can save a life by visiting: https://lookupindiana.org

Know the 12 suicide WARNING SIGNS
Information courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

Feeling like a burden ● Being isolated ● Increased anxiety ● Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain ● Increased substance use ● Looking for a way to access lethal means ● Increased anger or rage ● Extreme mood swings ● Expressing hopelessness ● Sleeping too little or too much ● Talking or posting about wanting to die ● Making plans for suicide

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