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Health Dept Releases New Data on Suicides in NYC From 2000 to 2014

 

image001The Health Department has released an Epi Data Brief entitled, “Suicides in New York City, 2000 to 2014.” The most recent data show there have been more deaths in New York City from suicides than from either motor vehicle accidents or homicides, and that suicide rates have risen between 2000 and 2014. In 2014, 565 suicides were reported in NYC. The rate of suicides in NYC increased from 5.5 in 2000 to 6.3 per 100,000 people in 2014. While this trend mirrors nationwide data (10.4 in 2000 and 13.0 in 2014), NYC rates remain well below the national average. Males represent the majority of suicides, with 393 suicides reported in 2014 compared to 172 suicides by females. Since 2000, the increase in the suicide rate was primarily among females (56 percent increase), while rates among males have largely remained steady. Among women, the suicide rate is highest among those ages 45 to 64, which is consistent with national data. The full Epi Data Brief with data tables can be found here.

“The data released today on suicide in New York City makes clear that a person’s untreated mental illness can result in premature and tragic death,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Through ThriveNYC, we are expanding mental health resources to act early, intervene, and treat mental illnesses before they become more serious. By tackling stigma, we are helping those in need feel more comfortable seeking support and preventing a tragedy that devastates so many families. By making mental health resources available where people live, work, study and worship, we can save lives.”

“This concerning increase in the suicide rate in New York City tells us that we’re not reaching New Yorkers early enough when they need support,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “ThriveNYC, New York City’s comprehensive initiative led by First Lady Chirlane McCray, is raising awareness about mental health across the city and enhancing services for those in need. If you or someone you know needs help, don’t hesitate to call 1-800-LIFENET. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911 right away.”

Suicide rates in NYC are highest and continue to rise among White males (11.7 in 2000 vs. 13.4 per 100,000 in 2014), and rates among Asian/Pacific Islanders have risen more dramatically (3.3 in 2000 vs. 6.1 per 100,000 in 2014). Since 2000, suicide rates have increased in Manhattan and Queens while other boroughs have remained steady. From 2008 to 2014, suicides have peaked in the spring (April through June), which is consistent with national patterns. The most recent data has also shown that the proportion of suicides due to firearms decreased in NYC between 2000 and 2014, which is consistent with a national decline. Firearms were far less prevalent as a method of suicide in NYC (10 percent of all suicides), in contrast to the US overall, where suicide due to firearms represented half of all suicides in 2014.

“The increase in the suicide rate in New York City reported by this Epi Data Brief only underscores the critical importance of meeting New Yorkers’ mental health needs,” said NYS Senator Jesse Hamilton, Ranking Member of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee. “Focusing on this issue means continuing to follow through on initiatives like Mayor de Blasio’s ThriveNYC and taking steps to connect our family, friends, and neighbors with needed resources. In addition, we can further train our educators, police, and other public service professionals with regard to mental health – a dimension of this issue I’ve been working on with a Mental Health First Aid bill. And further, policymakers, clinicians, and the public can work together to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness. This Epi Data Brief should prompt us to redouble our commitment to meet and overcome New York’s mental health challenges.”

“This is an alarming study showing that we need to do more to slow down the increase in suicide rates, both nationally and in New York City. However, we can take some comfort from the fact that New York City suicide rates are well below the national average. Clearly we are doing something right,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health.

The City has made mental health awareness and access to services a top priority. With ThriveNYC, an unprecedented set of 54 initiatives led by First Lady Chirlane McCray, the Health Department is raising awareness about the need to seek help while increasing access to mental health services across the city.

These initiatives include the NYC Mental Health Service Corps, which will provide an additional 400,000 hours of clinical time through the placement of 400 mental health practitioners, many of whom will be placed in primary care settings. Patients dealing with depression, anxiety, or substance misuse can be identified by their primary care doctor and referred to an onsite mental health provider. This makes mental health services easier to access, and also reduces the stigma of receiving mental health care by connecting it with physical primary care.

Another initiative, Mental Health First Aid Training, will train 250,000 New Yorkers (both adults and youth) in Mental Health First Aid over the next five years. This training educates people on how to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health issues and how to support individuals who may be suffering from a mental health condition.

Teachers and staff in NYC public schools have access to Kognito At-Risk training, an evidence-based training to educate teachers on how to recognize early signs and symptoms of psychological distress in students, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and approach and connect students in need of resources within a school setting.

In addition, NYC oversees approximately 16 program models designed to improve the emotional well-being of children and families, three of which provide intervention for youth in crisis needing immediate attention.

You can help prevent suicide by learning the warning signs. The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

· Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves

· Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun

· Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

· Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

· Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

· Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

· Sleeping too little or too much

· Withdrawing or isolating themselves

· Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

· Displaying extreme mood swings
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-LIFENET. If someone is in imminent danger, call 911.

For more information on ThriveNYC, visit nyc.gov/thrivenyc.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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