The report, which is published annually by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, addresses the growing problem of suicide statewide and highlights the outreach and awareness efforts throughout the state. The latest year for which state-specific figures are available is 2015.
In 2015, both the raw number of suicide deaths and the rate per 100,000 had surpassed the highest number from the previous year. There were 1,065 recorded suicide deaths, at a rate of 15.6 per 100,000 people. This figure represents an 11-percent increase in the suicide rate from 2014, when 945 suicide deaths were reported at a rate of 14 per 100,000 people.
As of 2015, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people 10-19 years old in Tennessee. On average, one person in this age group is lost to suicide every week.
A total of 54 suicide deaths in this age group were reported in 2015 at a rate of 6.4 per 100,000, a 64-percent increase from 2014, which saw 33 reported deaths at a rate of 3.9 per 100,000.
In the course of the lifespan, white men in Tennessee experience suicide rates several times higher than any other race-sex subgroup, and this distinction is especially pronounced in middle-aged and older adults.
“Going forward, we have our work cut out for us,” said Scott Ridgway, executive director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. “Tennessee’s suicide rate and raw number of deaths rose sharply in 2015, and recent statistics indicate a growing problem with suicide among adolescents and preteens. There are only two things that give us solace in the face of these developments, that without our dedicated involvement, even more people would have been lost, and that we have the staff, volunteers, resources and strategy to turn back the tide.”
Additional funding devoted to suicide prevention efforts will be necessary to properly address the issue of suicide, Ridgeway said.
The Status of Suicide in Tennessee report was published annually since 2012. The latest edition, along with past versions, is available at tspn.org/sost.