Suicides By The Numbers: 2016 A Record Breaking Year

Posted at 10:21 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-08 23:32:30-05

Every day Joanne Perley goes to work as the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network's regional coordinator. She's knows all to well what loved ones go through when a suicide occurs in your family. 

"It's a major loss, a major grief. For me personally I changed my complete course of my path in life and doing what I needed to do to work in suicide prevention," Perley said. 

The numbers for 2016 are out. There's a 4 percent increase from the prior year, meaning on any given day three people in Tennessee died by suicide. The new figures are the highest recorded in Tennessee in more than 35 years. 

What's more troubling, however, is who is committing suicide. The numbers show an increase in young people between 10 and 19-years-old. "A lot of that can be contributed to the fact that they're using more lethal means so they're using firearms more than they have in the past perhaps," explianed Perley. 

She discussed a recent study that shows how online forums like Facebook and Snapchat play a large role in a young person's life. "Social media and screen time actually, did have an impact on suicidal ideation, increased depression rates," said Perley. 

In general, white males are at higher risk for suicide. They account for 49 percent of Tennessee's population, but they made up 77 percent of suicide deaths in 2016. 

"For me its important that everyone know and have in their cell phone the national suicide prevention life line number, 1-800-273-8255," Perley said. 

"The best thing is to listen, to talk to each other and listen, develop ears and listen for things people might say to indicate they're in pain," said Anette Lake.

Lake lost her father and son to suicide, now she's fighting to make sure other families don't go through the same tragedy. "Hug somebody you know, hug somebody and let them know you care," she said. 

Beside the national suicide prevention hotline, those who are looking for help in Tennessee can reach out to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at 1-855-CRISIS-1 or 1-855-274-7471. The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network can be reached at 615-297-1077. You can also text the Crisis Text Line by texting "TN" to 741741 to chat with someone 24/7.