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Tennessee: 13th Highest Suicide Rate in Nation

PHOTO: September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and the effort is an important one in Tennessee, which has the 13th highest suicide rate in the nation. CREDIT: Jamie McCaffrey
PHOTO: September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and the effort is an important one in Tennessee, which has the 13th highest suicide rate in the nation. CREDIT: Jamie McCaffrey
September 3, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and mental health experts say taking the steps to possibly save someone's life does not require any special skills or training. Deb Peddycoart, who works in the field of suicide prevention, said people who are contemplating ending their lives often speak out - and friends, family and neighbors need to listen and take action.

"Too many times, tragically, people will say after a suicide death, 'Yeah, they said that, but I didn't think they meant it,' or they are suffering under the old myth that people who talk about it, don't do it. So, first and foremost, if someone directly says that they have suicidal thoughts - believe them," Peddycoart stressed.

In Tennessee, an estimated 850 adults and young people die by suicide each year, making for the 13th highest suicide rate in the country.

While youth are always at heightened risk, elderly white men are at greatest risk, Peddycoart warned, and lately, there has been a troublesome increase in suicides among middle-aged Americans, some possibly linked to the down economy of recent years.

"Middle-aged women, as well as middle-aged men - primarily white - are killing themselves in greater numbers," she said. "Much of the attention has been focused, and rightly so, on adolescent suicide, but for an age group, their suicide rate is not particularly high compared to that of older people."

Nationally, the suicide rate among people ages 35 to 64 increased by nearly 30 percent between 1999
and 2010. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

More information is available from the State of Tennessee at http://www.tn.gov/mental/mentalhealthservices and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://1.usa.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN