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Recent suicides shed light on growing problem

Suicide rates across the nation are up, but there is help available for those who are thinking about taking their own life.

BOISE -- Tens of thousands of Americans die by suicide each year. These deaths shine light on rising suicide rates across the U.S., which are up in almost every state.

A recently-released CDC report shows numbers up 30 percent nationwide since 1999 in half of the states, and Idaho saw one of the highest increases from 1999 to 2016.

But we want to tell you – there is help available.

In Idaho, suicide rates rose by 43 percent.

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Advocates fighting to decrease those numbers say it's crucial we understand suicide is more than a mental health issue -- it's a public health issue. And we need to destigmatize mental illness and suicide.

The CDC report shows a little more than half of the people who died by suicide between 1999 and 2016 didn't have a known mental health condition.

Suicide is caused by many factors and each one is different. But there are some warning signs to watch out for.

People may feel like a burden, isolated, disconnected, and express hopelessness.

They might have increased anxiety, feel trapped, have extreme mood swings or become angrier.

Substance abuse might get worse or someone might be sleeping too little or too much.

They might talk about wanting to die or make plans for taking their life.

"People can live with suicidal thoughts for weeks, months, years and, you know, what are the triggering events that push them from living with thoughts to having a plan and then acting on that plan?” said George Austin with the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline. “So it's always good to stay connected with people and sort of touch base. It’s OK if you don't see any signs to ask how somebody is doing."

Advocates say everyone in the community can prevent suicide.

So what can you do personally?

  • Ask someone you're worried about if they're thinking about suicide.
  • Keep them safe and get rid of anything that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • Be there with them and listen.
  • Help connect them with professional support and follow up.

Idaho's suicide prevention advocates are gearing up for the 4th Annual Western States Conference on Suicide. This two-day conference will have speakers each morning and training both afternoons.

The conference is open to the public. It is great for parents, educators, clinicians, and anyone who works in the mental health field

It will be held at Boise State University in the Jordan Ballroom on June 22 and 23, 2018.

The cost is $80 for both mornings of speakers and training registration fees.

Register at www.WSCOS.org.

The national speakers will talk about the latest advances in working with mental health and assessing and managing suicidal risk and exceptional trainings will be available to clinicians, educators, and community members. This conference will strengthen the resources available to all people and help to reduce the stigma of mental health issues and suicide.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support, please reach out for help by calling or texting the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 208-398-4357. All calls are confidential and anonymous.

You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Mental Health First Aid: 8-hour sessions give people a 5-step action plan that includes the skills, resources, and knowledge to recognize if someone needs help and how to get it for them.