Sobering report shows factors leading to suicides as rates increase

Author: Carla K. Johnson, AP
Published: Updated:
Photo: Pixabay

A new U.S. report says suicide rates inched up in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s report Thursday comes at a time of heightened attention to the issue with the apparent suicide this week of designer Kate Spade.

The CDC says more than half of suicides in 2015 in a subgroup of 27 states were among people with no known mental health condition. Suicide is rarely caused by any single factor, but information from coroners’ reports suggests many of the deaths followed relationship problems, substance use and financial crises.

The information suggests prevention could be broadened to focus on people undergoing life stresses.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and one of just three leading causes on the rise.

Kaynon Higgs, a suicide survivor, said he first tried to take his own life in 1998.

“I failed seven times,” Higgs said. “I figured God doesn’t want me dead right now.

Higgs described his need to talk to someone when he found himself in a dark place.

“It’s torture,” Higgs said. “Sometimes at 12:30 at night or 1 in the morning, you want somebody to talk to.”

Tamara Hall, a mental health professional, agrees with the CDC’s recent findings.

“People think that only individuals with mental health issues are going to have suicidal ideas,” Hall said. “That’s not true.”

“We have a huge opiate and addiction problem in the US, so that’s going to be a big contributor to the suicide rates,” Hall said.

Drugs, along with relationship and physical problems, are just some of the reasons people turn to suicide, according to the CDC.

The CDC also said better education on warning signs, cutting access to weapons and medications, and getting in touch with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline can help.

Hall urged people to “speak up. Don’t be afraid.”

Higgs added he reminds himself of this advice daily, as it could help save someone else.

“If you don’t have hope in today, have hope in tomorrow, because there’s always a chance for a better tomorrow,” Higgs said.

For more information from the CDC on suicide rates visit the CDC website HERE.

If you or someone you know has been affected by thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Associated Press reporter Carla K. Johnson contributed to this report.

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