New Reports Available.
The following two reports are now available on the Arizona Department of Health Servises (ADHS) web site:

Additional reports on drowning deaths, assault (homicide), drug-related deaths, firearm-related deaths, etc. are in preparation.

 

Back to top

 

Suicide is a Major Problem in Arizona.
In 2002, suicide claimed 784 persons in the state - AN AVERAGE OF TWO LIVES A DAY - more than homicide and AIDS combined. In fact, in 2001, Arizona ranked 10th in the nation in number of suicides, up from 13th place in 2000.


Arizona Suicides by Gender

Click here to enlarge


Arizona Suicides by Ethnic Gender

Click here to enlarge


Causes of Mortality by Age Group

Click here to enlarge


Suicide Mortality - Arizona v. USA

Click here to enlarge

 

We believe the high death toll in Arizona by suicide is unacceptable. Arizona Suicide Prevention Alert is dedicated to increasing awareness of suicide as a health care crisis in Arizona, advocating solutions, and organizing supporters of suicide prevention efforts. We also hope to serve as a resource for Arizona suicide prevention advocates.

Every year, more than 30,000 Americans take their own lives. Suicide is the eleventh-leading cause of death in the United States, and the third among our youth, ages 15 to 24.

Arizona Suicide Prevention Alert is dedicated to increasing awareness of suicide as a health care crisis in Arizona, advocating solutions, and organizing supporters of suicide prevention efforts. We also hope to serve as a resource for Arizona suicide prevention advocates.


Consider these Arizona suicide facts*:

  • 741 persons committed suicide in Arizona in 2001. Of these, 58 were children or teenagers, 55 were college age, and 143 were over the age of 65.
  • Suicide by firearm is unusually high in Arizona. Of the 741 suicides, 468 (or 63%) were by firearms.
    The national average is 57%.
  • Suicides greatly outnumber homicides and deaths from HIV in Arizona. In 2001, there were 484 murders and 17 HIV-related deaths in the state compared to 741 suicides, yet homicide and AIDS command a much greater share of public attention and resources.

*Statistics are from the Arizona Heath Status and Vital Statistics Report

 

Back to top

What Can Be Done?

Suicide as a national health issue received little attention until 1999, when the Surgeon General issued a call to action. This report proposed that the nation and states adopt a prevention strategy encompassing three central components: AWARNESS, INTERVENTION, and METHODOLOGY. A subsequent report issued in May 2001 The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, lists specific goals and objectives for achieving a reduction in suicide deaths. States were encouraged to adopt and adapt this National Strategy for implementation at the state and community levels. Arizona was among the states, however, funds to implement many of the plan's recommendations have not been available.

The information on this site provides a number of links to other resources and is intended to help users learn about suicide and suicide prevention. It is provided for informational and referral purposes only.

For more information about what national experts say can be done to reduce suicide deaths, see the The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent Suicide, July 1999

 

 

Back to top

Taking Action in Arizona!

Take Action! Contact your local state senator and state representative and ask them to increase funding for suicide prevention. Arizona has a detailed plan for doing just that, but lacks adequate resources for implementation.

Take Action Contact your local state senator and state representative and ask them to increase funding for suicide prevention. Arizona has a detailed plan for doing just that, but lacks adequate resources for implementation. See the Arizona Suicide Prevention Program Annual Report, 2001.

Back to top

The Surgeon General's Call to Action

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Suicide is the product of an effort that brought the best science together with the best experience on the subject of suicide prevention. A conference in 1999 with researchers, clinicians, survivors and advocates laid the foundation for a national suicide prevention strategy. Since then, we have been working hard to achieve this goal. There were more than 80 recommendations put forward at that conference.

In the course of reviewing those recommendations, it was quickly realized that they could be refined or reduced to 15 essential major recommendations which, if implemented promptly, would greatly help to reduce the number of suicides as well as suicidal behavior. Given that the country is facing an average of nearly 85 suicides and about 2,000 attempts per day, it was felt that it was important that we get these recommendations to the public as soon as possible, while continuing to work on a more comprehensive national strategy.

The 15 recommendations revolve around three principles‹Awareness, Intervention, and Methodology.

Awareness

We must promote public awareness that suicides are preventable. We must enhance resources in communities for suicide prevention programs and mental and substance abuse disorder assessment and treatment. And we must reduce the stigma associated with mental illness that keeps many people from seeking the help that could save their lives. The problem of depression, for example is common in this country and throughout the world. Donąt be afraid or ashamed to seek help so that you can continue to be a productive person, or to refer a friend or loved one you believe to be at risk.

Intervention

We must complete our work with public and private partners on a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. We must eliminate barriers in public and private insurance programs for provision of quality mental and substance abuse disorder treatments. We must institute training about suicide risk assessment, treatment, management and aftercare for all health, mental health, substance abuse and human service professionals‹including clergy, teachers, correctional workers, and social workers.

We need to develop and implement effective training programs for family members of those at risk and for natural community helpers on how to recognize, respond to, and refer people who show signs of suicide risk. Far too many health professionals are failing to ask about depression or to encourage patients to talk about it. In fact, about 70 percent of elderly suicide victims have seen a health care professional within the month preceding their suicide.

Methodology

We need to enhance research to understand risk and protective factors related to suicide, their interaction, and their effects on suicide and suicidal behaviors. And we need to increase research on effective suicide prevention programs, clinical treatments for suicidal individuals and culture-specific interventions.

It is my hope that communities, policymakers, civic organizations and individuals will take these recommendations to heart and work to implement them. We must remember that prevention begins at home, and the work of suicide prevention must be done at the community level. At the same time, in the press kits which accompany the Call to Action, you will find fact sheets that not only outline the problem of suicide in the U.S., but lay out what the Federal government is doing and will continue to do in the area of suicide prevention. Senator Reidąs work to secure an appropriations hearing in the Senate will allow us to continue and intensify our efforts.

The Call to Action we are issuing today is only a beginning. Let us together leave here today committed to preventing suicide in our nation.

The information on this site provides a number of links to other resources and is intended to help users learn about suicide and suicide prevention. It is provided for informational and referral purposes only.


Message from the Secretary of Health and Human Services

 

Back to top

American Indian Suicide
The American Indian Suicide Rate in Arizona almost 300% higher than other groups

Suicide is an even greater problem for American Indians and Alaska Natives. The suicide rate for this group of U.S. citizens is about 1.7 times the rate for all races in the U.S. The suicide rate for males 15 to 34 years of age is more than twice the national rate. Factors such as poverty and substance abuse contribute to this crisis.

For example, the poverty rate for American Indians and Alaska Natives in 2001 was 24.5 percent, as compared to 7.8 percent for non-Hispanic Whites. The 2002 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that among youths aged 12 or older, the AI/AN population had the highest rate of substance abuse or dependence of any major racial and ethnic group (14.1 percent). Studies have shown that 70 percent of all suicidal acts (completions and attempts) in AI/AN country involved alcohol.

There is a critical need for a Suicide Prevention Center to develop programs which can focus on education, screening, and improved treatment for this at-risk group.

Indian Health Service Special Report on Suicide

For the past 15 years, suicide has been the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24- year- old American Indians and Alaska Natives. The suicide rate for this age group is 31.7 per 100,000, as compared to a rate of 13.0 per 100,000 for persons in this age group for all races in the U.S. population. In addition, completed suicide for AI/AN occurs at a higher rate than in the general population (Middlebrook, LeMaster, Beals, Novins & Manson, 1998). However, suicide rates are not uniform across all AI/AN. Two communities that have experienced a significantly high rate of suicide are the Zuni Pueblo reservation in Arizona and the Standing Rock Indian reservation in the Dakotas.

Suicide is often the result of the failure to treat such problems as depression, alcoholism, and domestic violence, all of which are pervasive in the AI/AN population. A suicide attempt requiring hospitalization commonly costs $5,000 or more. These costs can escalate to exceed $100,000 in some AI/AN communities because of geographic isolation and high transportation costs. Such costs could be dramatically reduced with effective prevention programs.

Back to top


Matthew Couto was neglected and victimized by two doctors, who took no decisive action to help him, despite numerous red flags.
Read more of this story >