JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Law enforcement agencies in Craighead County are working more suicide cases and the trend for 2015 is not a good sign.
According to information obtained by Region 8 News from the Jonesboro Police Department, police received 299 calls related to suicide in 2013. In 2014, police received 317 calls. So far in 2015, police have received 285 calls and are on pace to respond to more than 320 calls.
These calls include attempted suicide, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, suicide threats and suicide deaths.
Suicide deaths in Craighead County totaled seven in 2014 and the total is already up to six in 2015.
Dr. Phil Hestand, counseling director at Arkansas State University, told Region 8 News that suicide rates increased after 2000.
"We were at a 10 per 100,000 low nationwide for the year 2000, since that time it has risen and it is still kind of on an upswing," Hestand said.
Nationally the suicide rate now is 12.5 per every 100,000 person.
Hestand said there could be several reasons for the increase. One factor is easy access to medications, especially painkillers.
"It is also a little bit easier sometimes for people who are depressed and feeling hopeless because we have widespread access to painkillers that are lethal at an overdose," Hestand said.
Another major factor is the financial and housing crisis that hit the United States.
"We tend to think it is over but a lot of people who got in trouble five or six years ago are still trying to work their way out of that," Hestand said. "We still have some unemployment issues; we still have people who are being laid off and losing jobs."
The highest rate of suicide happens in people age 85 and above, but with the recent increase, the most likely people to commit suicide is starting to be middle-aged people.
"The highest rate of increase is from about 45-64, which is usually when people are in their most productive years," Hestand said. "But for a lot of folks that is not the case at this time."
Seventy percent of completed suicides are men. Hestand said this could be due to men historically using more lethal weapons as opposed to women who historically use other forms like medications.
Not only does the research show men are more likely to commit suicide, but white males are at the highest rate, with Native Americans and Alaskans following.
African American, Asian Americans and Hispanics are less likely to commit suicide. These races only make up about 5 percent of the suicide rate.
Hestand said these rates could be due to white males not coping well with adversity.
While suicide rates are more likely on the rise in people during the middle stages of life, it is still the second leading cause of death among college students.
Hestand said the biggest way we can combat suicide is to talk about it. He said many think bringing up the topic may further the thought, but that is not the case. In fact, many who do have suicidal thoughts want to hear that they are wanted.
"Be willing to bring the subject up because people are often looking for that signal and evidence that someone out there really does care and wants them to stay here," Hestand said.
There are many signs people should look out for with someone contemplating suicide. Signs include isolation, loss of interest, giving away valued possessions, major financial issues and even a sudden tragedy like a major illness.
It is also important to take even the smallest threat of suicide seriously because Hestand said people having these thoughts would normally tell someone in some way.
"Usually people have told one or two people who are close to them that they were feeling hopeless and even sometimes have considered self-harm," Hestand said.
If someone does talk to you about suicide, the best thing to do is get them help right away.
Copyright 2015 KAIT. All rights reserved.