A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows the suicide rate soaring in Kansas and across the country as a whole.
Kansas Dept. of Aging and Disability Services Secretary Tim Keck said, “It’s imperative that we continue to make suicide prevention a top priority, by promoting public awareness of the issue, evaluating risk factors and encouraging appropriate treatments and interventions.”
The agency’s study finds the number of people who took their own life in 2016 was 45 percent higher than it was in 1999. From an average of 363 per year to 540 in 2016. That was the fifth highest increase in the nation. Every U.S. state, except Nevada, saw an increase in the number of suicides over that time and half of them saw a rise of more than 30 percent.
The five states that saw the largest increase were:
- 57.6% – North Dakota
- 48.6% – Vermont
- 48.3% – New Hampshire
- 46.5% – Utah
- 45.0% – Kansas
Besides South Carolina, the other states that saw the largest increases were Great Plains or Rocky Mountain states: Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
“Many of us have been personally impacted by this unfortunate reality,” Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment Chief Medical Officer Dr. Greg Lakin said. “It’s important that everyone, whether it’s a medical professional, family, friends or co-workers, take an active role in offering help before it’s too late.”
The issue extends far beyond people with mental health conditions, agency officials point out. Data from 27 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System show that more than half of them did not have any known conditions. Relationship problems was the leading circumstances contributing to those with or without mental health conditions who committed suicide, factoring into 42 percent of deaths, the CDC finds. A crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks and problems with substance abuse and played a role in 29 and 28 percent of suicides, respectively. Other causes included, a physical health problem (22%), job or financial woes (16%), legal problems (9%), or a loss of housing (4%).
With so many contributing factors, the KDHE provided a list of warning signs, including:
- Feeling like a burden
- Being isolated
- Increased anxiety
- Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Increased substance abuse
- Looking for ways to access lethal means
- Increased anger or rage
- Extreme mood swings
- Expressing hopelessness
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Talking or posting about wanting to die
- Making plans for suicide
For people concerned that loved ones could be at risk, the Kansas Suicide Prevention Center provides resources and training on how to support friends, families, and neighbors. They range from dealing with suicidal thoughts, plans, and actions to how to help someone after a suicide attempt.
Assistance is also available via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for Kansas at 785-841-2345 or 800-273-8255. Free and confidential crisis counseling is available 24 hours a day seven days a week. Kansas Chat is also available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday. Lifeline Chat provides a 24/7 chat line and hotline as well.