Suicide rate continues to increase in the U.S. as health professionals work toward solutions

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A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on a disturbing trend: increasing numbers of Americans are taking their own lives.

From 1999 through 2014, the age adjusted suicide rate in the U.S. increased 24 percent from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000, with the pace of increase greater after 2006.  The CDC report cites the most frequent method in 2014 for males involved the use of firearms (55.4%) while poisoning was the most frequent method for females (34.1%).  The trends for young people in the state of Indiana have taken a downturn as well. Indiana has the nation’s highest rate of students who have contemplated suicide (19%).

One in five Indiana youths has contemplated suicide. Indiana has the nation’s second highest rate of high school students attempting suicide (11%). And one in nine youths in Indiana have actually attempted suicide.

These statistics captured the attention of Community Health Network’s Behavioral Health Group.  Jennie Voelker spoke to CBS4 about some of the reasons behind the trends.

“I think the biggest thing in Indiana is the stigma for mental health services. People are not in a place where they are ready to reach out for those needed services. I think there may be lots of other things, contributing and (we) have lots of hypotheses (like) social media, and girls moving into puberty younger.  All of those factors might increase symptoms of depression,” says Voelker.

“Talk therapy is frequently the first line of defense, with symptoms of depression. It varies per individual and for the therapists. There are a lot of different evidence based practices that we use. But it’s basically the opportunity to figure out what’s going on, learn coping strategies, learn thought processes and how to change those thought processes to change outcomes.”

Behavioral Health Group's staff numbers around 800.  Out-patient, in-patient, school and home based focused therapies are utilized by this health care system. But no matter how many staff members and available locations, making a dent in depression, anxiety, any number of behavioral disorders and suicide starts with recognizing there is a problem.

“It starts with having a private conversation with somebody and expressing your concern. Maybe talking about behavior or emotional changes that you have seen and then listening to what they have to say, asking if they are OK. And then asking the question, do you want to die? Are you thinking about suicide? It’s OK to say those words. In fact it’s important to say those words,” says Voelker.

4 Your Health is presented by American Senior Communities.


Know the warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill one-self.
  • Looking for a way to kill one-self, such as, searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Need to talk? Call the lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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