(Photo by Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline.)

Rob Mooreby Rob Moore – Ohio Capital Journal

This article is about suicide. If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

Five Ohioans die of suicide every day.

This is just one of the many data points released in a new publication released last week by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. This data snapshot focuses on the prevalence of suicide in Ohio and how incidence has changed over time.

Below are some of the top findings from the release.

Suicide is a leading cause of death for working-age Ohioans.

Over 1,400 Ohioans died from suicide in 2022, the most recent year we have data for. This makes suicide the fifth-leading causes of death for working-age Ohioans, behind unintentional injuries like drug overdose and motor vehicle crashes, cancer, heart disease, and COVID-19.

Ohio’s suicide death rate is 15 deaths per 100,000 people, just slightly above than the national rate of 14.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

Suicide victims are disproportionately white, male, working-age, and Appalachian.

In 2022, 17 white Ohioans died from suicide per 100,000 population, higher than the rate of 12 for Black Ohioans, 10 for Hispanic Ohioans, and 7 for Asian Ohioans. Men were also four times likely to die from suicide than women. This is despite the fact that women attempt suicide at a rate 70% higher than men.

Suicide rates were highest in 2022 for working-age adults, higher than the rate for young adults, retirement-age adults, and children. Suicide was most common in Appalachian counties, with 15 of Ohio’s 22 counties with the highest suicide rates located in Appalachia.

Suicide is on the rise–for nearly everyone.

Since 2007, suicide rates have increased for men and women, white, Black, and Hispanic Ohioans, and Ohioans in every age group. The only major demographic group that has seen a flat suicide trend are non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander Ohioans.

Risk factors for high school students are also becoming more common.

Compared to 2019, female Ohio high school students were more likely in 2021 to feel sad or hopeless, seriously consider suicide, make a plan to commit suicide, or attempt suicide. While more male high-school felt sad or hopeless and seriously considered suicide over that time period, fewer made a plan or attempted suicide. The increase in suicide plans and attempts among female students was much larger than the decrease among male students.

The increase in suicide rate is driven by firearms.

Suicide deaths involving a firearm increased 60% from 2007 to 2022. This accounted for 75% of the total increase in suicides over that time period. The remainder of the increase was driven mostly by an increase in deaths by suffocation and other causes. Deaths by poisoning decreased over that time period.

Suicide is a hard social problem to make progress against. That being said, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio suggests interventions to improve mental health to prevent suicide attempts.

A 2016 evidence review published in the American Journal of Psychiatry concluded legislation reducing firearm ownership lowers firearm suicide rates. It also acknowledged, however, that court interpretations of the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution have made most legislative options for reducing firearm ownership politically unfeasible in the United States.

The researchers however, say targeted initiatives like gun violence restraining orders, smart gun technology, and gun safety education may be able to reduce risk for current gun owners. These sorts of approaches do not have a strong evidence base yet, but they at least give us something to tackle this difficult problem.

If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

Rob Moore

Rob Moore is the principal for Scioto Analysis, a public policy analysis firm based in Columbus. Moore has worked as an analyst in the public and nonprofit sectors and has analyzed diverse issue areas such as economic development, environment, education, and public health. He holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of California Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Denison University.


Your comments can change our community

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.