NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — September is Suicide Awareness Month, and in 2022 the Metro Public Health Department reported its highest number of suicides in recent years.
In 2022, Metro Health recorded 115 suicides, per the medical examiner, the highest number seen in the last five years in Davidson County. Officials say a combination of many factors could be to blame.
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"I think if you look at last year, one of the impactful things that we had was Covid. So, suicide rates went up during Covid, just like divorce rates, just like, you know, domestic violence and abuse, so it might be an anomaly," said Dr. Anidolee Melville-Chester, the Division Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness with the Metro Public Health Department. "It's probably too early for us to tell. So, we'd have to look at this year's numbers and see what they look like at the end of the year to make a decision."
Officials say they are working to better help and understand one group in particular.
"We have to constantly raise the bar one person committing suicide, too many. I think right now, why it's really important is our ten through seventeen-year-old is a focus for suicide and so we have to look upstream on what's happening to that age group," said Melville-Chester.
Suicide rates also hit a record high nationally in 2022. According to the CDC, that rate is at 14.9 deaths for every 100,000 people, which is 5% higher than 2018's previous record. Overall, rates increased by roughly 36% between 2000 and 2021 and was responsible for 48,183 deaths in 2021, which is about one death every 11 minutes.
Metro Health offers programs that can help people, including in the event of a mental health emergency.
- Mental health screenings by appointment at Metro Public Health Department, Monday-Friday. Appointments can be made by calling 615-340-2172.
- Metropolitan Social Services provides a range of services to help Davidson County residents who are in need. They can be reached for information and referral, counseling, case management, homeless services and more by calling 615-862-6432.
- Mental Health Co-op offers behavioral health services for children, adolescents, and adults. All TennCare plans are welcomed, and grants are available for those who are uninsured.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you call 9-8-8, the National Suicide Hotline, for support. You can call 24/7.
"We want to help counseling is not a bad word. Therapy is not a bad word. Help is not a bad word. It makes the difference between living and dying," said Melville-Chester.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. If you need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 or dial 988.
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