DHR releases new report about suicide in Georgia

November 30, 2005

ATLANTA (GA) – Every year in Georgia, suicide claims the lives of approximately 900 people. Twenty-eight hundred more are hospitalized and 5,400 visit hospital emergency departments because of intentionally self-inflicted injuries, according to the Georgia Department of Human Resource’s new report, Suicide in Georgia – State and County Statistics 2005. Firearms were used in the majority of suicide deaths. In Georgia from 1999 through 2002 – the period examined in the report – 69% of suicides or nearly 600 suicides per year involved firearms; nationwide, 56% of suicides involved firearms.

Annual suicide rates are highest among Georgia’s seniors, 75-84 years of age, at a rate of nearly 23 per 100,000 deaths, compared to a rate of nearly 11 per 100,000 deaths for all Georgians. While the death rate is highest among seniors, more than half of the total deaths from suicide occur in those under 45. Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in Georgia in 2002. It was the third most common cause of death of those 15-34 years of age. Overall, suicide has declined in Georgia, from 13.6 per 100,000 deaths in 1980 to 10.9 per 100,000 deaths in 2002, paralleling the national rate.

"If we can glean any encouraging news from these grim events, it is that Georgia’s suicide trends have declined over the past 20 years," said Dr. Stuart Brown, director of the Division of Public Health. "Georgia is one of very few states with a comprehensive report on suicide. The report’s data build the foundation to implement Georgia’s plan to help prevent suicide and the devastating emotional burden suicide has on families, extended families and on the state’s resources."

Georgia’s prevention plan is aligned with the U.S. Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and focuses on three priorities: increasing awareness that suicide is often preventable; implementing effective suicide interventions; and promoting research, evaluation and data collection.

"There is only one way for us to fulfill these goals. Suicide prevention must be a statewide priority and commitment," said Brown. "Every individual has to be alert for prolonged mood swings of their loved ones and acquaintances. The health and wellness sector, the business and faith communities, community-based organizations a nd government all have important roles and responsibilities in preventing suicide."

The Economic Burden of Suicide Attempts

The cost of suicide attempts in Georgia was approximately $40 million in 2002. During that year 2,842 people were hospitalized at non-federal acute care hospitals because of intentional self-inflicted injuries with related costs exceeding $32 million. Another 5,435 Georgia residents were treated for intentional self-inflicted injuries in hospital-owned emergency departments costing nearly $8 million.

Suicide Behavior Among Youth

From 1999 through 2002, 521 persons less than 25 years of age died from suicide, an average of 130 per year. Most of these suicides were committed with firearms. Among middle school students, 13% reported that at some time in their lives they had made a plan to commit suicide, and 8% had attempted suicide. High school students reported that during the past 12 months 13% made a plan to commit suicide and 9% attempted suicide.

Suicide Rates Higher in Rural Counties

The report summarizes the total number of suicides in each county from 1994-2002, average number per year, and average age adjusted rate per year (number per 100,000). The highest rates are in rural counties: 19% compared to 10.3% or lower in Metro counties. However, the actual numbers are higher in urban areas because of denser population.

Suicide in Georgia – State and County Statistics 2005 is available on the Division on Public Health webs site at: http://health.state.ga.us/programs/injuryprevention/suicide.asp. Copies of the report and additional information are also available by calling the DPH Injury Prevention Section at 404-657-6322, or by writing the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, Injury Prevention Section, 2 Peachtree Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30303.

For information, contact:
Mike, Mullet, 404-657-1388

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