If you think that most suicides occur in the cold, gray winter months, think again: It has actually been shown that the spring months of March, April, and May have consistently had the highest suicide rate, with 4-6 percent more suicides occurring in these months than during others.
Despite these high numbers, the state of Tennessee has
made some significant progress in recent years. For example:
- For three years, the Tennessee Lives Count (TLC) grant has provided suicide prevention training to more than 5,500 individuals across the state, as well as enhanced follow-up services to 237 high-risk youth under age 18 in the Middle and East regions of the state.
- The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) has collaborated with counties that have high suicide rates. Currently, there are 11 counties with task forces focused specifically on preventing suicide, and since the formation of these task forces, their respective counties’ suicide rate dropped as much as 40 percent.
- Due to The Jason Flatt Act of 2007, which requires Tennessee teachers to have two hours of suicide prevention training yearly, nearly 55,000 teachers received suicide prevention training last year. The Jason Foundation’s suicide peer awareness training curriculum is currently used in 928 Tennessee public schools.
Here are some additional facts about suicide rates around the state:
- In Tennessee, more men, women, and youth die by suicide each year than from homicide, AIDS, or drunken driving.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth and young adults ages 10-24 in Tennessee and throughout the entire nation.
- Yearly deaths by suicide are about twice that of deaths by homicide – in 2012, there were 956 suicides (or 14.8 per 100,000 residents) in Tennessee, compared with 456 homicides (or 7.1 per 100,000 residents). This rate also places Tennessee much higher than the national rate of 10.8 suicides per 100,000 residents.
- An average of 105 people die every day by suicide around the U.S., or about 38,000 a year.
- There are approximately as many suicides as there are motor vehicle deaths each year.
- More teens die by suicide than by cancer and heart disease combined.
- The highest rate of suicide in Tennessee is for people ages 45-54.
- About 4 times as many men die by suicide than women.
- Rates of suicide are higher in rural counties than urban counties.
For additional information about suicide prevention, check out the following programs:
- The TDMHSAS Crisis Line at (855) CRISIS-1 (274-7471) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and connects callers to their local provider for mental health and/or substance use crisis services. For more details, go online to tn.gov/mental/recovery/crisis_
- The TDMHSAS Office of Crisis Services and Suicide Prevention offers information online at tn.gov/mental/
- The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) is the statewide public-private organization responsible for implementing the Tennessee Strategy for Suicide Prevention. For more details, go online to tspn.org.
- The Tennessee Lives Count (TLC) project is a statewide early intervention/prevention project designed to reduce suicides and suicide attempts for youth ages 10-24. For more details, go online to tspn.org/tlc.
- The Jason Foundation is dedicated to the prevention of youth suicide through educational and awareness programs. For more details, go online to jasonfoundation.com.
- Mental Health America lists the key warning signs to be on the lookout for to help prevent suicide, and offers advice about what you can do if you think someone is considering suicide. For more details, go online to mentalhealthamerica.net/
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who is in a crisis or an emergency. If you or someone you know is in a crisis, you can call the Lifeline at(800) 273-TALK (8255). For more details, go online to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
TN Department of Health
MICHAEL A. RABKIN