Sharp increase in suicides baffling authorities
Idaho State Journal - 4/12/2018
There have been eight suicides in Bannock County in the last 30 days, which is more than double the normal amount. According to county Coroner Kim Quick, there are typically one to three a month.
The recent victims included six males and two females all age 50 or younger. Quick said he doesn’t know why the number is so high.
“There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” he said.
Quick added that oftentimes when there are multiple suicides in a row, it is the result of someone close to a suicide victim then committing suicide themselves. However, he said there did not appear to be any connections between the eight recent intentional deaths.
“I’ve had it where a friend killed themselves, and then another person will do it too,” Quick said. “But that wasn’t any of these. These were separate individuals.”
Ric Boyce, the director of Mental Health Specialists in Chubbuck, also said there can be a risk to those personally affected by suicide.
“A suicide influences everybody around them,” Boyce said. “And so we want to be paying much more close attention to people who have known people (who committed suicide.)”
Quick said that although some periods, such as the holidays, tend to have higher suicide rates, these were some of the highest monthly numbers he has ever seen.
“April can usually be high sometimes,” he said.
He says it could be due to the lack of mental health care in Idaho.
“Obviously there must be a mental health problem, which is a fact,” Quick said. “Idaho has probably got the worst mental health care in all the states.”
Idaho was ranked 47th in overall mental health by Mental Health America in a study that included the number of adults and youths with mental illnesses, suicidal thoughts, and drug or alcohol dependence.
The study also measured access to mental health care and mental health workforce availability.
Additionally, Idaho had the eighth-highest suicide rate nationally in 2016, with an average of nearly one suicide death a day, according to the Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho.
“Access to mental health care definitley does affect suicide prevention,” Boyce said. “With effective mental health treatment, almost all people who become suicidal are able to make a full recovery.”
Boyce said that despite Idaho’s below-average funding of and access to mental health care, there are multiple resources available to those contemplating suicide.
“Just because somebody has had thoughts of death or suicide, doesn’t mean to say it is a done deal at that point,” he said. “That’s when we start digging in and working with them. There’s so much that can be done at that point.”
He encouraged anyone who is having suicidal thoughts or feelings to contact the hospital, police or any mental health agency, including the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, which can be called or texted 24 hours a day at 1-208-398-4357.
Mental Health Specialists also offers a Suicide Survivor Support Group for those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Boyce said the group, which meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, is free to the community and is staffed with a mental health clinician.
Interested parties can call 1-208-238-9000 and ask for Garren Aubrey for more information about the group.
Jordon Beesley/Idaho State Journal