Oregon suicide rate higher than national average

Oregon suicide rate higher than national average »Play Video
Tawna Righter lost her son Michael to suicide 12 years ago

BLACHLY, Ore. - When Tawna Righter first heard that Oregon's suicide rate is higher than the national average, she wasn't surprised.

"It is a depressing statistic, it's sad," Righter said. "But it's something we could do something about, it's not a given it has to stay that way."

She lost her son Michael 12 years ago to suicide.

Earlier this month, Oregon Public Health released a new report with some alarming suicide statistics for the state of Oregon.
 
In the report, Oregon's suicide rate is listed as 35 percent higher than the national average, but that's not all.

Suicide is also listed as the second leading cause of death among Oregonians ages 15 to 34 and the ninth leading cause of death among all Oregonians.

Much of the data was taken over a 7-year period from 2000 to 2007, from the Oregon Violent Death Reporting System, which compiles statistics from police reports, death certificates and medical examiners.

"I was saddened because I think this is still an area where there's not a great amount of understanding," said Sandy Moses.

Moses, Lane County's Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention Coordinator, said factors like depression, access to guns and job loss may be why Oregon's suicide rate is so high.

"Additional stresses on peoples lives such as deployment, such as economic crisis, health crisis," said Moses.

Both Righter and Moses say getting the word out about suicide is the first step to reversing the trend, which every year, claims more lives than car crashes.

"I think one of our best prevention strategies is awareness," said Righter, "is being able to talk about it."