Suicide Rate Increases in Kansas

Nov 25, 2013


The Kansas Department of Health and Environment 2012 Annual Summary of Vital Statistics revealed suicides in Kansas increased 31.5 percent, totaling 505 deaths versus 384 in 2011,according to a recent article from the Kansas Institute of Health

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has released the state's 2012 Annual Summary of Vital Statistics, along with a letter from secretary Dr. Robert Moser saying he is "deeply concerned" by the sharp increase in the suicide rate.

KHI also reported there are significant regional differences in suicide rates. For the past decade or more, the rates typically have been highest in the states of the mountain west and lowest in the more heavily populated states of the northeast.

But with Kansas’ significant recent increase, it has moved into the rank of states with the highest rates. No one seems to know why, or whether the dramatic one-year increase was an aberration or the beginning of a disturbing trend.

More than four-fifths of suicides last year were male. The two age groups with the largest number of suicides were ages 45 to 54 (110 deaths) and 25 to 34 (87 deaths). The three most common methods of suicide were firearms (297 deaths), suffocation (113 deaths) and poisoning (69 deaths).

Marcia Epstein, director of Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence, said it is important for friends and family members to pay attention to warning signs of suicide risk, including when someone:

  • Lets you know that he or she has experienced significant losses
  • Shows that he or she is feeling intense, long-lasting emotional pain
  • Has significant changes in his or her behavior
  • States extremely negative thoughts about himself or herself or his or her life
  • Talks about suicide

She said friends or family should ask someone exhibiting signs: "Are you thinking about suicide?" and then should "listen with care, believing how the person describes his or her life."

The suicide prevention hotline number is 1-800-273-8255.