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Suicide Rates Among Ohio’s Youth and Elderly Jumped Over Last Decade, Report Shows

 By Jim Woods

The Columbus Dispatch –

Posted Nov 13, 2019 at 7:37 PM

Suicide rates in Ohio have increased dramatically among youths and those more than 65 years of age from 2007 through 2018, according to an Ohio Department of Health report released Wednesday.

Suicide is now the leading cause of death for youths between 10 and 14 in the state of Ohio. Statewide, 5 people die by suicide every day and one youth dies every 33 hours, the report states.

Ohio’s suicide rate is increasing, especially among youths between the ages of 10 and 24, with a 56% increase in deaths from 2007 through 2018, according to a state Department of Health report released Wednesday.

A young person dies by suicide every 33 hours in Ohio, and five people of all ages die every day, the report states.

“Suicide in Ohio and nationally is a growing public health epidemic, particularly among young people,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton.

“Suicide is the leading cause of death among Ohioans ages 10-14 and the second-leading cause of death among Ohioans ages 15-24,” Acton said.

There were 271 people between the ages of 10 and 24 who killed themselves in 2018. That is only two more deaths in that age group from the previous year.

But the trend becomes more alarming when viewed over more than a decade, as there were 174 such suicides in 2007.

Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director for the Ohio Department of Health, said the trend is alarming.

“It’s important to identify youngsters that are having trouble so that there can be intervention,” he said.

Hurst said it’s important to be aware if a youngster is suddenly becoming secretive, staying in his or her room and cutting off communication with others.

“We shouldn’t assume that a young person is just going through a phase if they are showing symptoms,” Hurst said.

Tony Coder, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, said the state’s report underscores that more resources need to be devoted to help young people.

“It’s a public health problem that needs to be addressed ASAP,” Coder said.

It’s apparent there needs to be outreach all the way down to the elementary school level, he said.

Overall in Ohio, the number of suicides increased to 1,836 in 2018 from 1,744 in 2017, an increase of 5.2%. Since 2007, however, the number of suicides has increased by 44.8%, from the 1,268 suicides recorded that year.

In addition to the increases in the younger demographic, suicides have increased substantially for adults 65 or older since 2007.

There were 333 suicides in that age group last year compared with 176 in 2007, a 90% increase.

Hurst said that it’s important to know that suicidal thoughts tend to be brief in nature. He said it’s important to reach out to those who are experiencing feelings of hopelessness.

“Suicide is a very complicated public health issue. When we look at the statistics, you can’t lose sight that it is someone’s son or daughter,” Hurst said.

For help, reach Ohio’s 24/7 Crisis Text Line by texting 4HOPE to 741741, or call the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-221-5445; the Teen Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-294-3300; or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255/TALK (1-888-628-9454 for Spanish speakers).