A new study from the National Center for Health Statistics says the national suicide rate has increased 24% from 1999 to 2014.
The report also shows that the national suicide rate steadily declined from 1986 to 1999, when that rate began climbing. The report claims that the economic recession of the late 2000s and an increase of substance abuse are both contributing factors, as were psychiatric conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
In Erie County, that same upward trend is at play, says coroner, Lyell Cook. He attributes many of the suicides in the county to one thing.
“At least 95% of suicides are ultimately due to failed interpersonal relationships,” said Cook. “Most people, if they are considering suicide, aren’t looking at the big picture.”
Cook says for years, the most used method of suicide in Erie County is guns, followed by hanging and then drug overdoses.
“The person’s most likely to commit suicide [in Erie County] were white males, 47 years old,” said Cook. “We are actually seeing an increase in the age for whatever reason and that is kind of troubling in its own way.”
The Erie County Suicide Prevention Task Force says the most effective way to prevent suicides, is to be educated on the resources available and be aware of the signs a suicidal person displays.
“Heavy depression, withdrawal from any activity or people in general, emotional withdrawal, giving away possessions – especially things that are very near and dear to them,” said Vice Chair of the task force, Aurielle Smith. “Speaking of not being here to do future events, any questions about guns. Knowing about suicide resources, knowing where to get help when you are starting to feel like that, knowing how to identify somebody who may be at risk for suicide.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.