Suicides hit record high in Tennessee in 2016

Mental Health

Suicides hit a record high for Tennessee in 2016, with 1,110 deaths reported.  

According to the data, that’s three Tennesseans dying per day by suicide.  

“One suicide is one suicide too many,” Scott Ridgeway, Executive Director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network told News 2.  
 
He said one suicide every four days is that of a young person between the ages of 10 to 24 and it’s a trend we can stop. 
 
“I can’t even imagine what families are feeling when they hear it’s preventable, because it’s only preventable if we know the warning signs.” he said.  
 
Clark Flatt’s son Jason was 16 when he took his life  

“Jason was your typical what I call all American kid,” Flatt told News 2.  
 
He said his family didn’t know the warning signs.  
 
“Regretfully it wasn’t until we lost him that Jason was almost what you call the poster child of suicide that day and today,” Flatt explained.  

MORE: After losing son to suicide, father starts nonprofit to help others

Jason took his life with his family’s gun. 
 
“Firearms still take the majority of suicide deaths in the nation today, but we are seeing that lesson as other means move forward. Historically, girls attempt suicide at a rate three times higher than boys, but boys complete suicide historically about four times higher than girls,” said Flatt.  
 
The choice of lethality has been the difference.  
 
“Girls historically have chosen drugs and boys have chosen firearms,” he explained.  
 
However, he said we are seeing that change as more females are starting to use firearms, while other means are spiking across the board, like suffocation. 
 
“Other methods are poisoning and hanging plays a major roll,” Ridgeway added.  
 
Ridgeway said there are steps we can take to help save a life, like putting medicine and guns in lock boxes. You can also take bullets out of firearms or consider putting trigger locks on guns. 
 
“Taking those extra steps can really make a major difference,” said Ridgeway.  

Prevention starts with being aware of the warning signs which could be behavioral changes, situational changes and verbal comments. If you notice these changes, there is help.  
 
Ridgeway said Tennessee is a progressive state when it comes to suicide prevention.  
 
Tennessee was one of the first states to pass the Jason Flatt Act of 2007, making youth suicide awareness and prevention training mandatory for teachers and principals. 

Twenty states have now passed the legislation.  
 
Clark Flatt started The Jason Foundation following the death of his son, which is now one of the the largest youth suicide prevention networks and they offer their services for free. 

Click here for more information on The Jason Foundation.  

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network also provides their services free of charge. Click here for more information

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