The first step to becoming part of any suicide prevention solution is understanding what the problem is, according to MassDPH, which includes, they say, understanding the scope of suicide deaths in the state and its impact.
According to the most recent available state data, the total number of recorded deaths by suicide increased each of the five years between 2013 and 2017, growing from 585 in 2013 to 688 in 2017.
Every year in that time period saw an increase of at least 7 deaths (2015 to 2016) with the largest jump coming from 2016 to 2017, when an additional 50 suicide deaths were recorded.
Likewise, local deaths have increased and continue to increase, even into 2020. As of the start of the month, both Bristol County and Greater New Bedford (the city and all adjacent towns) have seen their 2020 suicide deaths grow by 42% and 62% respectively over the same time period in 2019. In numbers, that was 47 deaths by suicide in Bristol County as of Sept. 1 and 13 in Greater New Bedford, compared to 33 and 8 respectively in the first eight months of 2019.
Broken down by gender, males have much higher suicide rates in the state, the data shows. Out of the state’s 688 total number of people who died by suicide in 2017, 535, or slightly more than 77%, were male.
By age group, the highest numbers of suicide deaths that year are for those between the ages of 25 to 64.
The state breaks the numbers down into 10-year groupings, but each of those groups had similar numbers in 2017, with the 25-to-34 year-olds increasing the most, up by 20 deaths year over year, from 105 deaths in 2016 to 125 in 2017.
While the numbers are disheartening, they are not the primary takeaway here, according to the state.
The number one thing to know about suicide is that it is preventable. More is known now, in 2020, about the reasons people take their own lives with researchers continuing to work to identify who is at risk and how to help them.
We can all make a difference and help save lives.
Check back tomorrow for more on the risk factors identified by researchers and tools that have been developed for screening people who may be having suicidal thoughts.