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Idaho's Suicide Rate Dropped In The Year Before The Pandemic

Heath Druzin
Boise State Public Radio

New federal data show Idaho’s per-capita suicide rate was improving before the pandemic. But early numbers indicate that trend reversed in 2020.


Idaho had the biggest drop in the per-capita suicide rate out of all states from 2018 to 2019. The 14.6% decline meant 52 fewer suicide deaths in 2019 compared to the year before. That’s according to new data out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week


“Some of the efforts that we had made were starting to show," said George Austin with the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, referring to statewide efforts to raise awareness about suicide and to reduce the stigma around asking for help. 


The drop highlighted in the national data represents just one year, and it's possible the decline was significant because the starting point — 2018 — was Idaho’s worst year for suicide deaths. And Idaho's 2019 numbers still put the state in the top ten for age-adjusted suicide rates.


Based on preliminary data, it’s looking like 2020 will be even worse than Idaho’s 2018 peak. That’s in large part, Austin said, due to factors exacerbated by the pandemic — isolation, job loss and relationship difficulties, among them.


Still, the decline Idaho saw two years ago shows Austin the trend can be reversed.


“Suicide is definitely something that is preventable," he said, "on an individual, but also on a broader community, basis.”

Resources if you or someone you know is considering suicide:


Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline: Text or call 1-208-398-HELP (4357)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Options For Deaf + Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889

En español: 1-888-628-9454

Veterans Crisis Line & Military Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1

Crisis Text Line: 741-741

In emergency situations, call 911.


Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen  

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.