Suicide. Everyone has been touched by the sadness of suicide whether through the loss of someone you love or someone you’ve known. Surely, many have wondered what they could have done to help prevent it.
The news on TV always seems to have a story or two each day on the subject and there are many hotlines and counseling groups, so many people think that is enough.
But when it happens in a rural area like White Pine County, many probably think it’s just an isolated incident. Think again. The numbers don’t lie.
Nationally, more people die from suicide than homicide and the “true” rate of suicide may be 3-5 times higher than the current figures show because many suicides go unreported. Nevada ranks fifth in the nation for suicides and the rate in Nevada is almost twice the national average.
Six of the state’s counties are ranked in the top 25, including White Pine County which has the fifth highest rate (2014 report) in the country out of over 3,100 US counties.
It seems hard to explain why the rate is so high here, although Nevada, in general, has had high suicide rates throughout its history. Since 1929, when the Silver State began registering vital statistics with the federal government, the state rate has been close to two to three times greater than the national average. Comparatively, neighboring states California and Utah had significantly lower rates.
Suicide in Nevada now kills more than 400 people annually. Each year, thousands more attempt suicide and experts estimate that there are about 25 attempted suicides for every one completed.
Friends and family must endure the pain, grief and guilt that follows suicide, as well as non-fatal suicide attempts and many more are affected by non lethal behavioral patterns of self-harm (suicidality and parasuicide) exhibited by themselves or others. The human cost of suicide and suicidality is staggering.
So what is being done to curb the suicide rates in our state?
In response to this ongoing crisis, federal, state and community agencies are starting to direct more resources to the problem. It’s a good start, but the magnitude of the problem continues to outstrip available resources.
In Nevada, lawmakers recently approved spending $114,000 for a new 24-hour bullying hotline. The state will be working with the Crisis Call Center, which also operates a suicide hotline as well.
While the money was earmarked for bullying, it could be a good step toward cutting the suicide rates as many times bullying leads to suicide, especially with adolescents. According to Adam Young, Principal at White Pine High School, they have had an advisor system in place for quite some time, in which each student has an advisor and they meet weekly.
While you may not always be able to identify someone in need, it at least creates a weekly dialogue with students and could be very beneficial in catching obvious behavioral changes.
Many think the suicide problem in Nevada is limited to the youth, but elder abuse and elder suicide is high as well. Regardless of the type, there is a need for help and there are several outlets in White Pine County that can provide counseling.
The Ely Community Mental Health Center is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and they are available for emergency help as well. They are located at 1675 Avenue F in Ely and the phone number is (775) 289-1671.
The Ely Suicide Prevention is available by phone 24/7 for those in need. It is not located in Ely, but is in Reno and the number is (775) 784-8090. The national suicide prevention hotline number is 1-(800) 273-TALK (8255) and is available 24/7 as well.
Again, there is no easy solution to this problem, but with additional resources available to provide the needed counseling and follow up, the suicide rate could be curbed, one person at a time. And just for the record, the highest rate in the country is in Alaska, while the lowest rate is in New York and Massachusetts.
So how much do you really know about this issue? Do you know the difference between fact and myth when it comes to suicide?
Take the brief 15 question test and see how much you know. You can’t fail the test, but the point is that we all need to be aware when it comes to suicide. You never know when you will make a difference.