The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer published an article today about our work in preventing suicides in the region:
By James Mayse
Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013 12:00 am
There were slightly fewer suicides in Daviess County in 2012 than in 2011.
While the decline in suicides is good news, the members of the Owensboro coalition working to educate the public on how to help prevent suicide say there is more work to be done.
There were 18 suicides in 2012, three fewer than in the county in 2011, Daviess County Coroner Jeff Jones said. Still, the number of suicides last year was much higher than the number in the years before 2011 — in 2010, there were 12 suicides in the county, and there were 13 in 2009.
Officials say they don’t know why the number of suicides might have declined. In 2010, the last year for which statics were available, Daviess County had a suicide rate of 16.5 suicides per 100,000 individuals, said Mike Flaherty, chairman of the Owensboro Regional Suicide Prevention Coalition. The state average for the 2010 was 14.5 suicides per 100,000 residents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Flaherty said suicide is still considered taboo. But being able to talk about suicide, especially with people who appear to need help, is one of the best ways to prevent suicides.
“We still find there’s a lot of stigma associated with suicidal behavior,” Flaherty said. “We educate people to see it’s more of a community health problem than anything.”
There’s no one reason people commit suicide, Flaherty and Jones said.
“It’s a complex behavior. People try to make sense of this and want an answer. The best we (can do) is understand the risk factors. The more risk factors there are, and the more serious factors there are,” the greater the person’s risk of suicide, Flaherty said.
According to the American Association of Suicidology, depression is believed to be a factor in 60 percent of all suicides.
“The most significant factor is depression,” Flaherty said — but other types of mental illnesses also play a role; 90 percent of all suicide victims were people suffering from some type of mental health condition.
Another factor is substance abuse, Flaherty said.
“One of the high risk factors is if someone had a drug or alcohol problem or their they’re intoxicated at the time” they attempt to commit suicide, Flaherty said. One-third of suicides are by people who are later determined to have been intoxicated at the time of the incident.
Jan Ulrich, suicide prevention coordinator for the U.S. Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, said previously there are multiple risk factors.
Although there are many reasons people consider or attempt suicide, the best way to help prevent suicide is to not be afraid to discuss it with people you believe are at risk, Flaherty said.
“It has been shown if a suicidal person talks to anyone who guides them to help, that’s extremely successful in (reducing) the risk” that the person will try to harm themselves. If you feel a person is strongly considering suicide, take them to the hospital, Flaherty said.
“It’s best to go with them and be there for them,” Flaherty said. “Sometimes, just that sign of support is effective.”
People looking for help or needing someone to talk to about feelings of suicide should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK. Local help can be found by calling RiverValley Behavioral Health’s crisis line at 684-9466.
James Mayse, 691-7303, [email protected]