CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Suicide claims more lives in Missouri than homicides and DWI accidents combined, according to new data.
Statistics released Thursday by the American Association of Suicidology show that Missouri had a suicide rate of 15.9 per 100,000 people in 2012, The Southeast Missourian reported. That is higher than the national average of 13 suicides per 100,000 people and ranks Missouri 18th in the nation.
And the numbers are climbing: Data from the Missouri Institute of Mental Health show a steady increase in suicide rates since 2000, nationally and statewide. It’s also the first time Missouri has reached the 15-per-100,000 threshold since at least 2000.
Like some other medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, a combination of biology and stress can lead to depression and suicide, said Del McKinney, director of education at the Community Counseling Center in Cape Girardeau. Much like a person can be predisposed to heart disease, some people are genetically susceptible to mental-health issues, particularly when high-stress situations occur.
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Getting back to a healthy state of mind can be a matter of “learning to manage stress, being aware of your emotions,” McKinney said. Medication is often prescribed, and other methods can be used to help with the situation.
Struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts “doesn’t mean you’re weak,” said Michael Hester, a licensed professional counselor and specialist in co-occuring disorders. “It means you’re human. If I have depression, I’m not defective. It’s OK to get help.”
When people reach the point of completing suicide, they are often not seeing the world as others do, Hester said.
“They might see everything as negative, when maybe it’s not,” he said
“They feel they’re worthless with an unchangeable future. They may think their situation is not going to get better, and view the world as totally bad and nothing good.”