Tennessee’s suicide rate hits record high

Staff Reports • Updated Jan 10, 2018 at 11:00 AM

NASHVILLE – In any given day, three people in Tennessee die by suicide. 

In 2016, the number suicides increased in young people 10-18 years old in Tennessee, with one person in the age group lost to suicide each week. One person between 10-24 years old commits suicide every four days, and every day at least one person more than 45 years old, with adults in midlife and older adults remaining at higher risk. 

While suicide rates in Tennessee went up only slightly in 2016, the new figures were the highest recorded in Tennessee in more than 35 years of record keeping, and the suicide rate remained above the national average. 

The Tennessee Department of Health’s Office of Health Statistics reported there were 1,110 recorded suicide deaths in Tennessee in 2016, up from 1,065 the past year, which represented a 4-percent increase. The crude suicide rate went up from 15.6 to 16.2 per 100,000, which represented a 4-percent increase. 

In Wilson County, the suicide rate for 2016 decreased to 15.8 percent per 100,000 people or 21 deaths compared to 2015 when it was 24 percent per 100,000 people or 31 deaths. The 2015 rate was the highest from 2007-2016 in Wilson County.

Firearms remain the most common means of suicide death in Tennessee, accounting for 677 or 61 percent of the recorded suicide deaths in 2016. A total of 222, or 20 percent of the deaths, were hangings or suffocations and 144 or 13 percent of the deaths were poisonings or overdoses. 

All of the proportions are roughly the same as last year’s figures. White people accounted for 79 percent of the general population of Tennessee but 91 percent of the suicide deaths. Men were also disproportionately represented, making up 49 percent of the population but 77 percent or 857 of the suicide deaths recorded in 2016. 

For the record, the latest figures from the American Association of Suicidology give a national rate of 13.9 per 100,000 as of 2016, with Tennessee’s rate that year placing it at 22nd among the states. Nationally, there were 44,965 suicide deaths in the U.S. in 2016, the latest year national data is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It came out to 123 suicide deaths each day and one death every 12 minutes. 

Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States and is responsible for 1.6 percent of all deaths recorded in 2016. Firearms were the leading mode of death, involved in 22,938 suicide deaths or 51 percent of the total. 

The complete county suicide numbers and rates for the last 10 years are available at tspn.org/suicide-statistics-2.  


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