About two Missourians kill themselves intentionally each day. Scott Perkins, Missouri Youth Suicide Prevention Project, statistics mirror the national average, but are a little bit higher.
There are several risk factors for suicide — mental disorders, alcohol and substance use, even the economy, he says. A recent survey of students in grades six through 12 shows that 15 percent of them had seriously considered attempting suicide. Six percent of them attempted suicide.
Perkins 775 people in the state died from suicide in 2008, the most recent year-end statistics available. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Missourians ages 15 to 34. However, the majority of suicides occurred in the 45 to 54 age group.
Most triggers for suicides involve a loss. The loss of a relationship through divorce, the loss of freedom from being convicted, or loss of a job. He says the dip in the economy — and hence, unemployment — could drive suicide numbers up.
And, our numbers could be higher than statistics show. Eighteen percent of all suicides are a result of poisoning. But he says if half of undetermined intent poisonings were self-inflicted, suicides in Missouri would be 3 percent higher.
The method most people use to kill themselves in Missouri is by firearm. Poisoning accounts for nearly 80 percent of attempted suicides.
About four times as many men kill themselves as women. Many of them are blamed on financial difficulties. However, Perkins says most suicides are blamed on a single, life-altering event, but there is usually a lengthy path of problems that push someone to the point of killing themselves.
Perkins reminds residents of the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
He gave a PowerPoint Presentation on Suicide to several health officials and journalists at a recent State of Health address in Jefferson City. The presentation shows a breakdown of statistics, how Missouri compares to other states, risk factors and more related to suicide and suicide prevention.