These numbers are fairly startling:
- Idaho continually ranks in the top 10 states for number of completed suicides per capita.
- Since 2003, suicide has been the eighth or ninth leading cause of death for all Idahoans.
- In 2013, Idaho ranked 7th in the nation for suicides per capita and 6th in the nation for youth suicide.
- And suicide is the second leading cause of death for Idahoans who are 15-34 years old, and for boys who are 10-14 years old.
As you can see, this is a sobering public health issue for Idaho.
Like other risky and life-threatening behaviors, suicides are associated with a variety of factors. It’s complicated, but some of the risk factors include access to lethal means, being exposed to suicides others have completed, a family history of suicide, and previous suicide attempts.
It’s worth noting that most suicides in Idaho – more than 60 percent — are carried out with a gun. Women attempt suicide more often than men do, but men are more likely to complete suicide because they tend to use deadlier methods. There are other risk factors as well.
Warning signs that indicate someone may be considering suicide include:
- Talking about wanting to die or committing suicide
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, by searching online, stockpiling pills or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or trapped or being a burden to others
- Increasing use of drugs or alcohol
- Acting anxious or agitated
- Behaving recklessly
- Increased aggression, anger or irritability
- Change in sleeping habits – too much sleep or too little sleep
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Extreme mood swings
The risk is greater when these signs are new or happen more frequently. It’s also greater if these signs are linked to a painful or stressful event or a loss.
How can you help someone in crisis?
First off, don’t leave that person alone. Immediately limit his or her ability to get their hands on anything that could kill them, like firearms, drugs or medication. Call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Other resources include the Department of Health and Welfare’s 24-hour mental health crisis lines in each region, as well as the Idaho Careline, which is available by dialing 2-1-1.
- Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-8255: https://www.idahosuicideprevention.org/
- National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml
- Idaho Department of Health and Welfare mental health crisis lines: http://www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Families/SuicidePrevention/Resources/tabid/1920/Default.aspx
- Suicide in Idaho: Fact Sheet August 2015: http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Portals/0/Medical/Suicide%20Prevention/August2015SuicideFactSheet.pdf
- Idaho Careline, dial 2-1-1: http://www.211.idaho.gov/