Status of Suicide in Tennessee 2014, a newly released report by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN), details current suicide trends and prevention efforts in Tennessee.
The report includes a summary of suicide trends within Tennessee. In 2012, the latest year for which state-specific figures are available, Tennessee’s age-adjusted suicide rate was 14.8 per 100,000 people, with 956 reported suicide deaths. Tennessee’s suicide rate ramped up by 15% in 2008, and while the rate has declined somewhat, it is still elevated compared to before 2008, and still above the latest national average by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (12.4 per 100,000 for the year 2010).
In any given year, over 900 people in Tennessee die by suicide. This includes an estimated 100 young people between the ages of 10 to 24 (about one every four days) and about 135 people over the age of 65—about one every three days.
Over the lifespan, the suicide rate in Tennessee peaks in the 45-54 age group, at a rate four times that of teens. Nationally, suicide among middle-aged and older adults increased over the last ten years, particular among baby boomers (ages 55-64). A nationwide study in 2008 found overall increase in suicides by 0.7% each year between 1999 and 2005, driven primarily by rising suicide rates among whites aged 40-64.
Suicide Among Teenagers in Tennessee
Suicide among teens is also an ongoing concern, since suicide is the third-leading cause of death among persons aged 10-19. In any given year, more teens and young adults die by suicide than from cancer and heart disease, and far more than higher-profile causes of death such as birth defects, HIV infection, and meningitis. According to the 2011 Tennessee Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the Tennessee Department of Education, approximately one in four high school students reported a prolonged period of sadness or hopelessness. 1 in 7 considered suicide, 1 in 9 planned an attempt, and 1 in 16 actually made an attempt.
Attention is also given to the nature of non-fatal versus fatal attempts and common suicide methods—almost two-thirds of all suicides in Tennessee involve a firearm.
The document also summarizes TSPN’s suicide prevention projects—presentations and training sessions for schools, churches, and civic groups; partnerships with state departments, other non-profits, and faith-based groups to implement suicide prevention strategy; debriefings for schools and other institutions affected by suicide death; and awareness and educational events across the state of Tennessee.
“Our goal is not merely fewer suicides, it is zero suicides,” explains TSPN Executive Director Scott Ridgway. “As such, TSPN remains at the ready to educate the people and dispel the stigma attached to suicide and mental health issues. We will be there to comfort those in pain, encourage them to tell their stories, and empower them to take action. We hope this report will inspire you to join us in the ongoing effort to make zero suicides not just an objective, but a reality for the people of Tennessee.”
TN Suicide Prevention Network
Suicide Prevention Help:
1-800-273 TALK (8255) (statewide, 24 hours)