Alaska’s suicide death rate increases

In January, the Section of Epidemiology released two reports detailing Alaska’s suicide rate from 2012-2017, which increased 13 percent over the previous five-year period from 2007-2011 period.

From 2012-2017, Alaska’s suicide rate alternated between first or second highest in the nation. Highest rates were among males 20 to 24 years and 70 to 74 years and females aged 20 to 24 years. Geographically, the Southwest and Northern regions had the highest rates, but the Anchorage/Mat-Su region had the largest rate increase of 61 percent during the study period.

Beginning in 2015, toxicology testing was performed on people who died by suicide when samples could be collected. Of those who were tested during 2015-2017, 70 percent were positive for one or more substances, with alcohol being the most frequently identified.

Injury Surveillance Program Manager Deborah Hull-Jilly is partnering with other researchers to try to understand the reasons behind the overall increase and to better understand the role of substance misuse as a risk for self-harm.

Data such as this, compiled through the Alaska Violent Death Reporting System (AKVDRS), are used to inform public health tactics, tailor advocacy efforts, address disparities between regions and people, and prioritize health care responses.

Read the full details in the AKVDRS Suicide Death Update – Alaska, 2012-2017 and Alaska Suicide Toxicology Project Summary, 2015-2017 reports online.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Careline anytime at (877) 266-4357. Careline, Alaska’s suicide prevention and crisis support hotline, is free and confidential and available 24/7, 365 days a year.



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