NJ Suicide Rate Up 9% Since 2000; Still Better than the U.S.
In New Jersey and throughout the country, residents are more than twice as likely to kill themselves than be killed by someone else.
The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 47,000 Americans took their own lives in 2017, representing a 33 percent jump in suicide in nearly 20 years.
In 2017, the data show, there were 14 suicides for every 100,000 residents, compared to 10.5 prior to the year 2000.
Since 2008, suicide's been the 10th-leading cause of death for all ages across the country.
New Jersey has also experienced an overall increase in suicide, but not as drastic as the nationwide picture. At 7.2 deaths per 100,000 population in 2016, suicide was the 14th-leading cause of death in the Garden State.
The suicide rate dropped in New Jersey from 2015 to 2016, but it's up a little more than 9 percent since the start of the century.
On average, nearly 700 New Jersey residents commit suicide annually, according to the state Department of Health.
"Any suicide, child or adult — nine out of 10 times it's mental illness not treated, or treatment's not working," said Sue Heguy, coordinator for the Bergen County Traumatic Loss Coalition.
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There's plenty of free help available for those struggling with suicidal ideation, and the issues leading to it, Heguy said. But people may not be aware or willing to reach out.
The number of younger residents, ages 10 to 14, who took their own lives doubled in the Garden State from 2016 to 2017, according to Heguy. She said smartphone usage — specifically social media — is likely linked to the trend.
Parents who spot "a drastic change" in their children, Heguy said, could benefit from seeking professional help. A scholar athlete who suddenly doesn't want to attend school, for example, would be a red flag.
"If we can help in the beginning, the outcomes are so much better. Because once the brain gets really sick and depressed, it doesn't see that things can change," Heguy said. "There's nothing left when you don't have hope, so we're always trying to get in there before the crisis."