Suicide rates on the rise throughout Ohio

As surges in COVID-19 numbers prompt many to again follow social distancing and isolation guidance that was in place for most of the spring, mental health experts are warning about the effects of that kind of isolation — and the hopelessness that comes from the accompanying economic challenges. Increases in the number of reported suicides are a real possibility.

But the unfortunate truth is suicides have been on the increase across the country for decades, according to a study titled “Suicide in Ohio: Facts, Figures, and the Future.” The report was produced through a joint effort of the Mental Health and Addiction Advocacy Coalition, Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health, Ohio University and Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation.

It shows suicide deaths have risen sharply in Ohio, increasing by 34 percent over the 10 years from 2009 to 2018, with men dying by suicide much more frequently than women. In 2018, men accounted for 1,425 of a total 1,804 suicide deaths in Ohio.

“If people start to lose hope if they lose jobs or homes … we are quite concerned,” Tony Coder, the executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation told another media outlet. “Then, when you add in all the isolation we’ve already been through and the anxiety around this issue … there’s all of these things around the coronavirus that really make us worry.”

So what can we do? Pay attention to changes in behavior in family and friends, reach out, listen without judgment and be supportive. Share resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

There’s been a lot of talk that “we are all in this together” since March. Not everyone feels that way. We owe it to those who are struggling to let the them know they are not alone.


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