State Suicide Rate on the Rise


Like many Western and rural states, suicide statistics coming out of Idaho are anything but optimistic. According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, suicides increased by 22 percent between 2008 and 2009, from 251 to 307. Idaho’s rate of suicide by firearm is higher than the national average and calls to the national suicide prevention hotline are also on the rise. Rural areas are at the highest risk for suicide; Lemhi County had the highest rate, followed by Caribou, Minidoka, Custer and Valley Counties.

Idaho lost its suicide prevention hotline in 2007. Community members and health professionals who want to learn more about reducing Idaho’s suicide rate can register to attend the Idaho Suicide Prevention Network’s 10th annual suicide prevention conference Sept. 8-10.

On Sept. 8, Idaho State University’s Institute of Rural Health is hosting a free preconference session titled, “It Can be Done: Moving from Awareness to Action in Suicide Prevention.” During the session led by Director of Public Policy for Mental Health America of Wisconsin Shel Gross, attendees who have ideas for suicide prevention programs will learn how to make their ideas a reality.

The conference's keynote speaker is Florida State University psychology professor and author Dr. Thomas Joiner. The featured speaker is Ellis Amdur. Amdur will speak on emergency responses to parasuicide and people with borderline personality disorder. Other featured speakers include Mayor Dave Bieter; Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention chairperson Kathie Garrett; BSU Dean of Social Sciences and Public Affairs Melissa Lavitt; and State Department of Education Superintendent Tom Luna.

The conference, which costs between $80 and $100 to attend, will be held at the Boise First Community Center. To register and see the full schedule, visit the Idaho Suicide Prevention Network's website.