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Highest Suicide Rate in TN Among White Middle-Aged Men

PHOTO: The suicide rate in the state is pretty much holding steady, but the latest report also shows much still needs to be done, especially among middle-aged and older white men. Photo Credit: Victor Casale
PHOTO: The suicide rate in the state is pretty much holding steady, but the latest report also shows much still needs to be done, especially among middle-aged and older white men. Photo Credit: Victor Casale
January 16, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The latest data shows the "Status of Suicide in Tennessee" is stable, but there are still concerns among some groups, including middle-aged and older men. White males ages 45 to 60 account for the largest number of suicide deaths in the state.

Scott Ridgway, executive director, Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, said that is partly because of the attached stigma.

"Men sometimes do not reach for help, do not seek counseling. So, if we could just educate that age group to try to seek some help when they're struggling, we would see that number probably decrease," Ridgway said.

Some of those in that group who take their own lives are veterans, but Ridgway noted that the data does not address that, specifically. Nationwide, on average, a veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes.

In addition to trying to remove the stigma associated with suicide, Ridgway said the key is education and awareness, such as being able to recognize the warning signs.

"Folks who may have verbally expressed that they're thinking about suicide, they wish they were dead. Physical changes within their appearance, their behavior, their eating habits. They show less interest with activities that they may be involved with," he explained.

According to the Tennessee Partnership on Suicide Prevention, there were 956 suicides in the state in 2012. Firearms is by far the most common method, followed by poisoning and suffocation.

"Status of Suicide in Tennessee" report is available at http://tspn.org/sost.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN