Avoid Increase In Suicide Rates

As surges in COVID-19 numbers prompt many to again follow social distancing and isolation guidance that was in place for most of the spring, mental health experts are warning about the effects of that kind of isolation — and the hopelessness that comes from the accompanying economic challenges. Increases in the number of reported suicides are a real possibility.

But the unfortunate truth is suicides have been on the increase across the country for decades, according to a study titled “Suicide in Ohio: Facts, Figures, and the Future.” It shows suicide deaths have risen sharply in the Buckeye State, increasing by 34% over the 10 years from 2009 to 2018, with men dying by suicide much more frequently than women. In 2018, men accounted for 1,425 of a total 1,804 suicide deaths in Ohio.

Here in our area, suicide rates track closely to those in most other Ohio counties. According to the state report, from 2009-2018 the average annual suicide rates per 100,000 population were 12 in Harrison County, 14 in Monroe County and 17 each in Belmont and Jefferson counties. The numbers are significantly higher than the state’s lowest rate (7 in Holmes County) but better than the highest (24 in Meigs County).

Again, however, mental health experts warn the COVID-19 experience may push some people over the edge. What can we do to help them? Pay attention to changes in behavior in family and friends, reach out, listen without judgment and be supportive. Share resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

There has been a lot of talk that “we are all in this together” since March. Not everyone feels that way. We owe it to those who are struggling to let the them know they are not alone.


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