Each year, close to 43,000 Americans die by suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. For the past two decades, suicide rates have been on the rise in the United States, particularly among men aged 45 to 64 and girls aged 10 to 14 – a demographic whose rates have tripled since 1999 – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although New Jersey has the country’s third-lowest suicide rate (behind New York and Massachusetts), its numbers are on the rise, increasing almost 26 percent from 1999 to 2014, notes the New Jersey Department of Health. On average, one person dies by suicide every 11 hours in the state.
Peers, mental health specialists and clinicians at the New Jersey Hopeline (855-654-6735, njhopeline.com), the state’s first suicide prevention hotline, operated by Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, have been concerned with this uptick in deaths by suicide. “There remains a lot of stigma associated with people who seek help for mental health, which prevents them from getting the assistance they need,” says William Zimmermann, the Hopeline’s clinician supervisor. “We need to pay more attention to suicide prevention.”
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