Suicides Rising In Tennessee

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network have released their annual report. It demonstrates a worrying upswing in suicide rates all across the states – with Cumberland, Anderson, Morgan, and Roane counties all experiencing a considerable rise in suicides. This is a major cause for concern, and has led the TSPN to redouble their outreach and education efforts.

It’s estimated that three people in Tennessee die by their own hands every day. Many more attempt suicide, and many more still will be considering it. In Tennessee, one person aged 10-19 dies by suicide every week. One person aged 10-24 dies by suicide every four days. And one person over the age of 45 dies by suicide every single day. Furthermore, for younger people (10-19), suicide is the second leading cause of death – topped only by road traffic accidents.

People in midlife – white males in particular – appear to be the group most at risk of suicide (though it can strike anyone, whatever demographic groups they occupy). Notably, white males in midlife are also less likely than many other groups to seek help for mental health issues, frequently fail to address any substance abuse issues, and sometimes feel increasingly confused as to their role in a fast-changing society. Crucially, they are also more likely than many other demographics to own firearms. Firearms are the most common means of death by suicide in the state of Tennessee. Sadly, attempts with firearms are more likely to be fatal than most other common methods of committing suicide.

The previous issued report detailed an all-time high for suicides in Tennessee, leading authorities to call for more suicide prevention methods, and greater mental health provision – particularly for those from impoverished families, who may not be able to afford the kind of mental health help available to others. Overall, Tennessee has a higher suicide rate than the national average.  Why this should be remains unclear. The factors leading towards suicide vary greatly from person to person. Mental illnesses like depression often play a significant part, but this is not universally the case. Some believe that a culture of reticence about suicide in Tennessee is contributing to the issue by tacitly preventing people who feel suicidal from talking about their problems. Political uncertainty, financial pressures, the stress of modern life, and even social media have also been touted as potential causes of the rise in suicide rates.

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Initiative has spent considerable time and resources combatting this worrying increase in suicides. Over 2016, they produced and distributed suicide prevention literature through schools and colleges all over the state. They also launched initiatives training parents to ‘suicide-proof’ their homes, and help young people in suicidal positions. They have worked closely with academic, legislative, and church groups to enable people in positions of care, power, or authority to prevent suicide and help suicidal individuals wherever possible. During September – designated Suicide Awareness Month – TSPN give a series of seminars and courses on the topic of suicide prevention. They also distribute a number of brochures on the subject, and encourage people to both talk about the issue, and take more care of their own mental health. They also issue newsletters for survivors of suicide attempts, and for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

Suicide is a terrible, devastating issue. It is caused by untold suffering, and brings suffering in its wake. If you or anyone that you know is having suicidal thoughts, it is important to do something about this. Something as simple as reaching out to a friend or a loved one can help. If you feel isolated, or do not want to talk to someone you know, there are organizations which can help. Many provide counselling, or can help you to get in touch with the people who can help your situation. In times of crisis, a listening ear can be reached via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK [8255]. This is a network of 161 crisis centers across the nation, who provide 24/7 free communication for suicidal people. Callers are automatically routed to their nearest crisis center – which will be better able to understand any more localized issues, and to recommend mental health referrals or counselling services in the area.

About Gemma Joseph

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