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Frontier Health will be joining other health organizations throughout September in calling attention to National Suicide Prevention Month.

Are you well versed in the signs of suicide? You should be if you reside in Sullivan County, which has the highest rate of intentional self-harm, and the highest rate of suicide ideation (thinking about it) in the state. And the state has seen an 11% increase in suicide rates since 2015.

The age-adjusted rate per 100,000 of suicidal ideation, related emergency department visits and hospitalizations was almost twice as high for Sullivan at 1,122 as for the state at 572. The statewide average for suicide deaths last year was 16.5 per 100,000 population. For Northeast Tennessee it was 17.8; for Sullivan County, 19.3.

During 2019, 1,220 Tennesseans died by suicide and a concerning rise has come from younger girls who died by suicide. As of 2018, suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people aged 10 to 19 in Tennessee with one person in this age group lost to suicide every week. We lose one person between the ages of 10-24 every four days, and every day we lose at least one person over the age of 45, with midlife and older adults at higher risk.

The 2021 Tennessee Department of Health Suicide Prevention Report finds that males have more than three times the rate of suicide death compared to females. In 2019, the suicide death rate for males in Tennessee was 28.3 deaths per 100,000 compared to 7.9 deaths per 100,000 females.

Suicide has increased across all age groups over the last five years. As the population ages, the gender gap widens. Males aged 65 years and older had at least five times higher suicide death rates than females of the same age group. Among adults aged 25 to 64 years, males had a three-fold higher rate of suicide death than females.

This is National Suicide Prevention Month when we are asked to know, and pay attention to, the warning signs of suicide, the 10th leading cause of death nationwide, claiming more than 47,500 people annually. It’s the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.

There are nearly 2.5 times as many suicides (47,511) in the U.S. as homicides, (19,141) and health providers say knowing the warning signs can save a life because suicide is preventable. The warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide. They include:

• Behavior changes perhaps related to a painful event or loss.

• Talking about wanting to die.

• Searching online for a way to kill themselves.

• Searching for a place to buy a gun.

• Talking about revenge or showing rage.

• Talking about being a burden to other people.

• Increasing use of alcohol and drugs.

• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

• Acting anxious, agitated, or behaving recklessly.

• Sleeping too much or not enough.

• Mood swings.

• Isolating themselves.

If you or a loved one is contemplating suicide, the National Suicide Hotline is available 24/7, 365 days a year at (800) 273-8255.

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