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Suicides In San Diego County Rise 5 Percent

Stan Collins with the Suicide Prevention Council, releases San Diego County's...

Photo by Susan Murphy

Above: Stan Collins with the Suicide Prevention Council, releases San Diego County's annual suicide report, which shows a five percent increase in the number of people who took their own lives in 2017, Sept. 14, 2018.

The number of people who died by suicide in San Diego reached its highest number in five years in 2017, according to a report released Thursday by the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council.

There were 458 suicides in the county in 2017, 27 more than in 2016.

The most suicide deaths the county has seen in recent years was 441 in 2013. Both 2017 and 2013 had suicide rates of 13.8 per 100,000 people.

In addition to the overall rise in suicides, suicide rates for people under 18 continued to trend upward, mirroring rises in the state and national suicide rates for children and teenagers. San Diego's under-18 suicide rate has climbed from roughly 0.75 deaths per 100,000 people in 2007 to two per 100,000 in 2016.

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"Suicide continues to be a serious concern in our region," said Dr. Michael Krelstein of the county's Health and Human Services Agency. "We must do all we can to prevent people from taking their lives and it starts by knowing the warning signs of suicide."

Stan Collins, the council's suicide prevention specialist, said the numbers underscore the need for everyone to know the warning signs of suicide, including drug and alcohol abuse, dramatic mood swings, withdrawal and talk of feeling burdensome to others.

"We need every individual, every family, every organization, every business — everyone out there to understand we all have a role to play," Collins said. "And that role might be in our professional lives — getting trained and learning how to do a risk assessment, or it might be in our personal lives, being prepared to have those conversations with our family and our friends."

County officials said calls to the county's crisis hotline and visits to its suicide-prevention website have also been on the rise.

"The good news is that fewer people are ending up in the emergency room because of a self-inflicted wound and more San Diegans are reaching out for help and calling the hotline," Krelstein said.

County health officials advised residents who want more information about suicide prevention and mental health support to visit the county's suicide prevention website — up2sd.org — or call the access and crisis hotline at (888) 724-7240.

County officials said calls to the county's crisis hotline and visits to its suicide-prevention website have also been on the rise, reducing emergency room visits for self-inflicted wounds.

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