Blue Mountain Eagle

Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series about suicide.

Suicide is a problem that reaches into every demographic category — age, gender and socio-economic class.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide in 2012 was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for people 16 years and older. About three-quarters of the suicide deaths that year were by males.

The percentage of teen deaths by suicide in Oregon doubled from 2006 to 2015, according to Children First of Oregon. At 38.3 percent, it was the No. 1 cause of death. And while the suicide rate among youths 10 to 24 years stayed roughly the same across the U.S., the rate in Oregon increased by 41 percent.

More than two-thirds of Oregon youths involved in suicide incidents from 2002 to 2012 had cited mental health problems before their attempts. More than a third had been diagnosed with a mental disorder.

The youth suicide rate in Grant County is higher than the U.S. rate, Community Counseling Solutions Clinical Director Thad Labhart said, but the rate for Oregon as a whole is higher than the national rate.

Nearly 80 percent of suicides in the U.S. are by men. The cause is typically related to loss of self-esteem due to loss of employment, becoming ill, losing a spouse or partner, an embarrassing public disclosure or fearing loss of control.

In Oregon, the highest suicide rate is for men over 85 years old: 72.4 per 100,000 individuals. For women, the highest rate was for ages 45 to 54. Men in Oregon were 3.6 times more likely to commit suicide than women, according to the Oregon Health Authority. About 25 percent of suicides in Oregon occurred among veterans.

Suicide rates increase as people age, peaking after 85. In Grant County, 22 people died by suicide from 2003 to 2012. Nine were over 65 years, six were from 45 to 64 years, and five were from 25 to 44 years. One was from 18 to 24 years, and one was from 10 to 17 years.

Young people tended to suffer more from poor family relationships, while older people tended to suffer more from physical health problems. Adults between 18 and 44 years who died from suicide were more likely to have had problems with intimate partners. Mental illness was most common among suicide victims between 45 and 64 years.

A little more than half of suicide victims in Oregon in 2012 used firearms, and about three-quarters of all firearm deaths were suicides, according to the Oregon Health Authority. About 19 percent of suicides in Oregon that year were by poison, and another 19 percent were by hanging or suffocation. Men accounted for 61 percent of suicides by firearm, while women accounted for 42 percent of suicides involving poison.

Women accounted for 63 percent of hospitalizations following a suicide attempt in 2013. The highest rate was for women 35 to 44 years and 15 to 24 years of age. About 90 percent of these hospitalizations involved poisoning, such as overdosing. Only 2.2 percent were by firearms.

The final installment of the suicide series will be published next week.

• Community Counseling Solutions in John Day, 541-575-1466

• David Romprey Oregon Warm Line, 1-800-698-2392

• Oregon Youth Line, 1-877-968-8491, text 839863, youthL@linesforlife.org

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK

• Spanish Language National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-888-628-9454

• Crisis Text Line: 741741

• Military Helpline: 888-457-4838 or text MIL1 to 839863

• Alcohol and Drug Helpline: 800-923-4357 or text RecoveryNow to 839863

• Suicide Prevention Resource Center, sprc.org

• SafeOregon reporting line: 844-472-3367 or tip@safeoregon.com

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