Suicide – part 2


By Mick Holien

Not only was it surprising to learn late last week that Montana led the nation in the number of suicides per capita but equally so that recent studies have shown that added publicity dealing with suicide prevention increases the amount of deaths.

But just as concerning is that it took last week’s deaths of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to learn that federal data indicates suicide rates have consistently risen for years across demographic lines in most states.

The issue now is certain to be polarizing because one of several risk factors is the ready availability of weapons.

A New York Times report that indicates guns are used in nearly half of suicides also revealed that not completely conclusive states such as New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York have the lowest suicide rates and correspondingly have the country’s strictest gun control laws.

The study from the non-partisan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also indicates one in five Montana suicides involve veterans more than twice the rate of non veterans.

Karl Roston, state suicide prevention coordinator, attributes a shortage of mental health services, isolation and easy access to guns contributing to Montana’s high rate, a phenomena that has existed for years.

Nevada is the sole state during the CDC study that decreased but still ranks in the top 10 while many states saw double digit increases.

While rates cross gender and geographic lines, 84 percent are Caucasian and 77 percent are men.

Advocates of gun control legislation predictably cite a 2005 Indiana law that allows cops to seize guns from people they deem dangerous leading to a 5.5 percent decrease in the expected firearm suicide rate.

My series on suicide on In My Opinion continues Tuesday with additional personal recollections with a reminder there is a 24/7 help line at 1-800-273-8255 (talk). Just sayin.’


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