Flagstaff's suicide rate at all-time high

While Flagstaff locals are still mourning the possible suicides of Logan Flake and Andrew Bauer, these tragic deaths are bringing a dark statistic to light.

Suicides rates have increased across all of Arizona over the past few years, and Coconino County had the highest suicide rate of the state.

The Public Health Services District of Coconino County (CCPHSD) published an overview of suicide trends from 2010 to 2016. The report was based off of data from both death certificates and hospital records.

Between 2010 and 2016 in Coconino County, an average of 23.4 people per 100,000 committed suicide per year, higher than both Arizona’s overall average of 13.3 and the national average of 18.2 people per 100,000 per year.

The report revealed some staggering statistics, but CCPHSD chief health officer Marie Peoples stated the goal of the report was to educate in order to lower the rate.

“The CCPHSD strives to bring together many different perspectives to strengthen prevention efforts,” said Peoples. “The public health approach to suicide prevention requires that everyone work together to address system, community, family and personal factors that can lead to suicide.”

Despite so many suicides occurring within the county, two out of every five suicides that occured in Coconino involved people from neighboring counties and states. The majority of those individuals were from Yavapai County and Maricopa County.

This suicide trend showed the median age for suicide deaths was 39, with caucasians and Native Americans making up the most suicides. Of those who committed suicide, 80 percent were men while 20 percent were women.

The most common manner of suicide was a self-inflicted gun shot wound, accounting for 54 percent of suicides during the 2010 to 2016 timespan. Hanging accounted for 28 percent of suicides, drug overdoses accounted for 12 percent and the remaining 6 percent were various other methods.

Suicide attempts also rose in Coconino County according to the report. Between 2010 and 2015, Coconino County hospitals saw 1,800 admitted due to suicide attempts.

In addition to this, nearly half of all suicide-related hospital visits were those between the ages of 10 and 24 and one out of every three suicide attempts was a Native American.

Other groups prone to suicide attempts included LGBQT youth and veterans. In a CCPHSD survey within the report, 38 percent of LGBQT teens said they had made a suicide plan within the last year, compared to 12 percent of other teens. Twenty-nine percent of the LGBQT teens actually making an attempt compared to 6 percent of others.

For all groups, the risk for veterans to attempt suicide was three times higher compared to non-veterans. Despite these statistics, suicide still affects people of all ages and groups.

The state’s high suicide rate has recieved attention since 2007 from both the public and state government officials when the rate rose above the national average.

To help further suicide prevention within Flagstaff, NAU has been providing students with mental health and suicide prevention programs on campus.

Campus Health Services offers programs specifically for students who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and mental health issues. Programs and services include online mental health programs like SafeJacks and counseling services.

In addition to these services, there are also 24-hour suicide prevention hotlines, both local to the Flagstaff area and nationally.

There are other options available to students as well such as Stressbusters, a free service NAU provides to students where they can receive a free five-minute back massage coupled with counseling and presentations about suicide prevention. All of these services have been offered to support the mental health and well-being of students.

If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.