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Wakulla Times Article-suicide-Nov. 2010

Governor Charlie Crist recently signed a proclamation recognizing Sept. 5 to Sept. 11 as National Suicide Prevention Week in Florida. Suicides are often the unspoken tragedies, but they are in the top 10 of leading causes of death in the United States, said Wakulla County Sheriff David Harvey. Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in Florida.

During Sheriff’s Harvey’s time in office he and his staff have had to address a number of suicide tragedies and the memories of the events flow from the sheriff as if they had just occurred.
“It’s hard to find a family who has not been impacted by suicide in some way,” said the sheriff. “It is such a terrible thing.” Sheriff office officials attempt to offer help to residents who threaten to harm themselves. Several calls to the dispatch office come in each week that note residents threatening to harm themselves. Dozens of residents have been helped by mental health assistance while a few others have tragically taken their own lives.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics in 2006, suicide ranked from second to eighth as one of the leading causes of death for various age groups of Americans. For Americans age 25 to 34, suicide is the second leading cause of death. For the 15 to 24 age group it is the third leading cause of death and for the 10 to 14 and 35 to 44 age groups suicide is the fourth leading cause of death. Suicides outrank heart disease, HIV, diabetes, liver disease and influenza deaths. The 2005 suicide statistics also showed similar cause of death information.

In Florida, the Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention tracks death statistics and the most recent statistics from 2008 counted 2,723 suicide deaths in the state. The state ranks county suicide rates on a one per 100,000 resident basis for a 67 county comparison or a Florida rate of 14.5 deaths per 100,000 people. In 2007, the numbers were lower as 2,570 suicide deaths were reported and the rate per 100,000 was 13.7.

In Wakulla County, the 2008 statistics reflected two suicides and a rate per 100,000 of 6.4. The Wakulla rate was second lowest in the state as only Calhoun County was ranked lower. Calhoun officials did not report any suicides in 2008. Wakulla County’s statistics were equally impressive in 2007 as only two suicides were reported, but due to a lower population the rate per 100,000 was slightly higher at 6.7.

The top 10 counties with the highest suicide rates in 2008 were: Dixie, Washington, Holmes, Hamilton, Glades, Madison, Nassau, Okaloosa, Monroe and Pasco. On the low end with Calhoun and Wakulla were Franklin, Miami-Dade and Gadsden.
In Florida, averages of seven residents per day lose their lives to suicide and Florida’s suicide rate is consistently double the homicide rate. Florida ranked high at 19th in the nation for suicide rate in the most recent national statistics which come from 2005.

Mental health officials have found that more than 90 percent of suicide victims have a significant psychiatric illness or substance abuse disorder at the time of their death. Many of the disorders go undiagnosed, untreated or both. Researchers have determined that 20 to 50 percent of individuals who die by suicide have alcohol or drug abuse problems.

The suicide rate in youths from age 10 to 24 rank third highest only behind accidents and homicide. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.

Where do you turn if someone you know may be considering suicide? Below are a few Internet web sites that contain useful information about suicide prevention or you may call the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office at 745-7100 and a law enforcement official can determine if you or a loved one are eligible for a Baker Act to be taken for treatment.
www.ulifeline.org; www.save.org/; www.healthyplace.com; www.afsp.org/; www.preventsuicide.net; www.yellowribbon.org.

 

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