DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NEWS RELEASE
The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced today 520 New Mexico residents died by suicide in 2020; this is an increase of five suicides as compared to 2019. New Mexico had the fourth highest age-adjusted rate for suicides in the nation in 2019, (which is the most recent year for which US data are available). New Mexico had a crude suicide rate of 24.6 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2020, which is 23% higher than the crude rate in 2010 (19.9 deaths per 100,000 residents).
The Department of Health is working in numerous ways to implement a comprehensive, data-driven approach as recommended by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). This approach, based on the best available evidence as key to preventing suicide includes seven strategies:
· Strengthen Economic Supports
· Strengthen Access and Delivery of Suicide Care
· Create Protective Environments
· Promote Connectedness
· Teach Coping and Problem-Solving Skills
· Identify and Support People at Risk
· Lessen Harms and Prevent Future risk
Suicide can be prevented. The NMDOH is working with partners throughout the state to decrease the number of suicides in our state. Evidence based strategies being implemented by the department include convening of a statewide suicide prevention coalition and the creation of a strategic plan to be implemented by the coalition. The Department is implementing a program ensuring those who are seen in hospital emergency departments are referred for behavioral health follow up. People who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief after someone talks with them in a caring way. People are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking with someone who listens without judgment. Acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase ideation. NMDOH suicide prevention staff are participating on the implementation team for the 988 crisis line which will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, eliminating the need to remember longer phone numbers in a moment of crisis.
The NMDOH is also promoting effective ways to prevent suicide among youth, including peer-based approaches in which youth gatekeepers seek assistance for peers who may be at increased risk for suicide.
“The Department of Health is committed to a implementing a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. Through collaboration with its sister agencies including the Human Services Department, we are committed to reducing these preventable deaths in all age groups in New Mexico,” said DOH/HSD Secretary Dr. David Scrase.
The most common means of suicide in 2020 were firearms (58%), suffocation/hangings (26%), and poisonings (10%). About half of individuals who died by suicide in 2020 were between the ages of 15 and 44. Furthermore, 26 of NM’s resident suicides occurred among children under 18 years of age in both 2020 and 2019. Individuals aged 55-64 years had a slight decrease in suicides from an age-specific rate of 28.5 deaths per 100,000 residents during 2019 to an age-specific rate of 22.5 deaths per 100,000 residents during 2020. Nearly four times as many males as females died by suicide in 2020. This is similar to the ratio between males and females in previous years.
The crude suicide rate for non-Hispanic whites decreased slightly from 33.0 deaths per 100,000 residents during 2019 to a crude rate of 31.5 deaths per 100,000 resident) during 2020. The southeast health region of NM had an increase in the crude suicide rate from rate 21.8 deaths per 100,000 residents during 2019 to 28.9 deaths per 100,000 residents during 2020. Conversely, the southwest health region had a decrease in suicides from 23.7 deaths per 100,000 residents during 2019 to 19.8 deaths per 100,000 residents during 2020. New Mexico counties with the highest crude suicide death rates in 2020 were San Juan, McKinley, and Bernalillo.
Suicide is complex issue influenced by a variety of personal and community risk and protective factors; therefore, addressing this public health issue at multiple levels is essential. Consequently,
If you or someone you know may be feeling suicidal or would like to talk with someone who can help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741 741.