Monday, December 5, 2011

Report: Medicaid Cuts, Prevalence of Guns Tied to Spike in Idaho Suicides

Posted By on Mon, Dec 5, 2011 at 9:07 AM

A new report from ABC's Good Morning America is focusing on Idaho as a prime example of the rise of suicide in rural America. According to the study, "mental health professionals attribute it in part to cutbacks in Medicaid funding, to the recession and the culture of the rural West." Wyoming and New Mexico were also singled out in the report.

Bonneville County Sheriff's Office Capt. Sam Hulse told the Idaho Falls Post Register that last week, his department was getting more suicide calls than last year-a year in which 290 Idahoans took their own lives.

"We're in a spike right now," Hulse said.

According to the most recent national data available, Idaho's suicide rate is sixth highest in the nation, representing nearly 17 suicides per 100,000 people. Idaho trails only Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana and Nevada. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Idahoans aged 15-34. Only accidents rank higher.

Kim Kane, executive director of Idaho's Suicide Prevention Action Network, said a main factor in Idaho's high rate of suicide is a greater prevalence of guns: In 2010, 63 percent of Idaho suicides involved a firearm, compared with the national average of 50 percent.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK.

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