Idaho had the 9th highest suicide rate in the country in 2014, 46 percent higher than the national average. A stunning 320 Idahoans completed suicide attempts that year, up slightly from the year before – an average of almost one a day. An array of suicide prevention groups gathered at the state Capitol today to reach out to lawmakers on the issue, and urge support for several measures now pending in the Legislature to address the problem. Among them: Providing sustainable funding for the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline; creating a state Office of Suicide Prevention to coordinate prevention efforts; suicide-prevention training for youth; and moves to build public awareness. Some of that will be addressed when the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee considers the Health & Welfare budget on Friday morning.
Suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death for Idahoans age 15-34 and for males age 10-14 in 2014. In 2015, one in five Idaho youth attending public schools reported seriously considering suicide; 9.8 percent said they’d made at least one suicide attempt.
Carmen Stanger, chair of the Idaho chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said it’s time for Idaho to carry out its newly developed Idaho Suicide Prevention Plan. “We’re at the tipping point,” she said. “All of the agencies have come together in a collaborative effort.”