Community makes strides in reversing rising suicide rates

Community makes strides in reversing rising suicide rates

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) -Suicide rates across the country, especially in rural areas, are climbing according to a recent medical study.

In the study, suicide rates were found to be highest in less-populated counties and in areas where people have lower incomes and fewer resources.

But local experts say even Potter and Randall counties have a high rate of suicide.

“Most states have seen an increase. And in fact, I think all but one, according to the last CDC report, have seen an increase in completed suicides. And our area for Potter and Randall County is not exempt from that, which is really unfortunate,” said Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness at Family Support Services Amy Hord.

United Way of Amarillo and Canyon cites in its 2018 Community Status report that Potter and Randall counties even exceed the state average.

“You’re looking around just 10,11,12% in Texas overall, and it’s 38% in Potter County at this time,” said Senior Director for Community Impact at UWAC Belinda Palacios.

And when it comes to suicide, there is no one factor to consider.

“You can have one that’s the catalyst, and then a lot of other things happen, but it’s tough to pinpoint from data,” said Palacios.

Hord says the suicide of a loved one, however, can often have a substantial effect and could even lead others to do the same.

“If it’s a student in a school, then the other classmates, the teachers, their family members, students in other schools, it has a whole ripple effect that it affects people in our community. So it’s really important for us to take this issue and try to do something about it,” said Hord.

While it is unfortunate that the community has this issue, Hord says it is fortunate that groups like the Texas Panhandle Suicide Prevention Coalition are working on solutions.

One of those is an adult fatality review team that reviews deaths specific to suicide to find common factors.

“It helps us identify what specific factors are we seeing here in our community so that we can do better prevention so that we can do a better intervention and better postvention,” said Hord. “So if something’s been completed, what can we do to offer support to the survivors in the community?”

Community makes strides in reversing rising suicide rates (Source: Texas Panhandle Suicide Prevention Coalition)
Community makes strides in reversing rising suicide rates (Source: Texas Panhandle Suicide Prevention Coalition) (Source: KFDA)

Another strategy the coalition plans to implement is Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors, or LOSS, teams.

A team of volunteers would offer immediate support to those left behind after a suicide.

“The research says that people don’t often get support until about four and a half years down the line. And with this effort, it will decrease them within a few months, and so we want people to get intervention sooner because they are at risk if they’ve lost someone to suicide,” said Hord.

The LOSS team workshop and training will be held on Oct. 4 and 5 at the Amarillo College West Campus from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Family Support Services has a multitude of services for those contemplating or dealing with a loss due to suicide.

They can be reached at (806)-342-2500.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

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