Suicide is a leading cause of death and impacts all communities and populations in this country. Suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016. In 2016, nearly 45,000 persons died by suicide in the United States. Mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but suicide is rarely caused by any single factor.
In the July/August issue of the Travis County Medical Society Journal, Austin Public Health summarizes local data on suicide and suicide attempts in Austin and Travis County. The publication can be found at: http://www.tcms.com/TCMS_Journal/.
Here are summary points from local data collected and analyzed by Austin Public Health:
During the 10 year period from 2008 through 2017, there were 1,260 suicide deaths that occurred in the City of Austin. The annual number of suicides ranged from 105 in 2011 to 143 in 2014.
On average, a person dies by suicide every three days in Austin.
Emergency department encounters for suicidal-related behaviors in Austin metropolitan area hospitals for 2017 totaled over 5,000, an average of approximately 420 per month or 14 per day.
Every day, a Travis County resident is discharged from a hospital following a suicide attempt.
The charges from hospital stays from attempted suicides total $13.2 million per year for Travis County residents.
A majority (74%) of persons who died in the city of Austin by suicide (2013-2017) were males. They ranged in age from nine to 94. Fifteen people were 15 years of age or younger. Within each age group, the number of males who died by suicide was greater than the number of females. Most (78%) of the people who died by suicide were Whites, followed by Hispanics (13%), Blacks (6%) and Asians (2%). The use of a firearm was the method of suicide for 50% of males who died by suicide, but for only 27% of females.
Primary care physicians have a significant role in preventing and screening for suicide as do hospital doctors. They should provide crucial linkages to outpatient psychiatric and/or mental health services for those who have attempted suicide and to those who are being discharged from the hospital. Integral Care, the local mental health authority for Travis County, offers services for insured and uninsured adults, children, and families. Services include a 24-hour crisis helpline, mobile crisis teams, mental health, urgent care, suicide prevention and short-term residential services. For more information, visit their website at www.integralcare.org. If you or someone you know needs help now, call Integral Care’s 24/7 Crisis Helpline at 512-472-HELP (4357).
Communications and Public Information Office
301 W. 2nd Street, Austin, TX 78701