| 03.18.2018

Mental health correlation — Idaho Council for Suicide Prevention highlights correlation between mental health, suicide


The Idaho Council for Suicide Prevention is calling for awareness of the new Idaho suicide hotline and more focus on the correlation between mental health and suicide.
Kathie Garrett, chair of the suicide council, said approximately 90 percent of suicide victims have mental health disorders or substance abuse at the time of their suicide.
“It’s critical to address the mental health needs in Idaho,” Garrett said. “We are 51st in the nation on spending on mental health.”
Idaho is below Puerto Rico when it comes to mental health spending and on average spends $33 per capita.
Garrett said the Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention hopes to inform legislators about the critical shortage of mental health services and professionals in all regions of the state.
“We would like to see better mental healthcare,” Garrett said.
Garrett said Idaho ranked sixth highest in the nation for deaths by suicide, 49 percent higher than the national average.
“The lives lost to suicide may have been saved through increased awareness, education, prevention and intervention strategies,” Garrett said. “Death by suicide is one of the easiest deaths to prevent. And yet in Idaho, we do not do a good job.”
The new Idaho suicide hotline started in 2012 has enough funding now to continue for two years, Garrett said.
Veteran Services put $110,000 in the budget for the hotline services.
“We have an obligation to make sure it continues and that the citizens of Idaho can continue to rely on that 1(800) 273-TALK,” Garrett said.
The Idaho suicide hotline has been active since Nov. 26, 2012, after going six years without service due to lack of funds and staff.
The Idaho hotline currently has 40 volunteers that lets it operate Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In order to run all hours of the week, 90 volunteers are needed.
Garrett said when the Idaho hotline isn’t open, the national hotline is.
Garrett said in a state like Idaho, where access to public mental health is difficult in rural areas, people can get help from one or the other hotlines wherever they are, appointment-free, and passing an income-means test is not necessary.
She said people should know the warning signs and risk factors and that it’s important to give people who are struggling hope.
Garrett said it is important for college campuses to bring people together to talk about suicide and the risks to look out for.
The Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho can answer questions, give tools and survivor support.
Garrett said 63.5 percent of Idaho suicides are by firearm because of the lethality of it.
“When you have someone in your life that you’re concerned about, don’t have the guns around, lock them up, put the safety conditions on,” Garrett said.
In a state where the Second Amendment rights are so strongly upheld, Garrett said safe gun use and storage are primary factors in helping prevent suicides.
“It’s being that responsible friend or loved one to make sure that it’s not available for people to access,” Garrett said.
Emily Johnson can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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