Editorial: Bay Area county’s suicide prevention effort is working

The efforts of a Bay Area county in the heart of pressure-packed Silicon Valley proves that it’s possible to make progress on one of health care’s biggest challenges: reducing the growing suicide rate in California and the United States.

Sadly, the national suicide rate has increased 33 percent since 1999. The rate of 14 suicides per 100,000 people in 2017 is the highest since World War II. The Centers for Disease Control reports that suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans and the second leading cause of death for people age 10-34.

California’s annual suicide rate — 10.5 per 100,000 people — is lower than the national rate but also on the rise. The highest rates of suicides in the state, according to the California Department of Public Health, are in rural Lake County (30.4) and Shasta County (24.8). Closer to home, Contra Costa County’s rate (10.5) mirrors the state level. Santa Cruz (16.4) and San Francisco (11.3) counties are higher, while Alameda (8.9) and San Mateo (7.6) are significantly lower.

Santa Clara County has the lowest suicide rate (7.5) of any county in California. And it has dropped for three straight years.

Stand up and take a bow, county workers.

The Santa Clara County Behavioral Services Department was created in 2014 by merging the Mental Health Department and the Department of Alcohol and Drug Services. Toni Tullys was appointed director and given the charge of creating a model integrated public sector health system. Part of that challenge was reducing the county’s suicide rate.

“We wanted to support and sustain what was already in place,” Tullys said. “But I think the two biggest factors in whatever success we’ve had is, first, additional funding, and second, building a multi-pronged plan based on data.”

The county targeted key areas:

• Middle-aged men. The numbers showed …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health


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