Suicide rates continue climb

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2012 06:00 am | DAN SINGLETON

Suicide levels in Alberta have reached record levels, with men three times more likely than women to take their own lives, according to new statistics obtained by the Gazette.

In 2010 there were 523 suicides (including three out-of-province residents) in Alberta, with 104 in the south rural area, which includes both Mountain View and Red Deer counties, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

By comparison, there were 487 suicides in 2009, 490 in 2008, 473 in 2007, 458 in 2006 and 427 in 2005. In 1990 there were 400, 395 in 1985, 400 in 1980 and 287 in 1975.

The rise in the number of suicides in Alberta is an indication of the need for community stakeholders to come together to find solutions and to promote awareness of suicide prevention programs, according to Marita Stermann, executive director of Sundre’s Greenwood Neighbourhood Place.

A workshop and public forum to address suicide issues is planned for later this month in Sundre. Greenwood Neighbourhood Place is one of the organizers of the forum, which is open to the public.

“There is a need to respond to this issue,” said Stermann. “If there are things happening in the community where people are hurting then we need to do something about it. Everybody would like to know what it is we can do to help the community. Everyone can play a role in making a difference.”

Of the 520 Alberta resident suicides in 2010, 391 were males and 129 were females. In the south rural area, 78 males and 26 females killed themselves.

Provincewide, men and women aged between 50 and 54 were the most common suicide age group, with 66 total suicides, including 50 men.

Males and females between age 45 and 49 were the second most common age group to commit suicide, with a total of 63, including 48 men.

There were 41 teen suicides, including 26 males and nine females between age 15 and 19.

There were 50 suicides in the 20-24 age group (39 men); 39 in the 25-29 age group (28 men); 47 in the 30-34 age group (37 men); and 49 in the age 40-44 age group (36 men).

August was the most common month for suicides, with a total of 60. March was second with 54; November and July were tied for third with 52.

Of the total male suicides in 2010, 41.4 per cent were by hanging, 22.8 per cent by firearm, 13.2 per cent by overdose, 9.9 per cent by carbon monoxide, and 12.7 per cent by all other methods.

Of the total female suicides, 45 per cent were overdose, 34.1 per by hanging, seven per cent were by carbon monoxide, 1.6 per cent was by firearms and 12.4 were by all other methods.

The non-profit Suicide Information and Education Services (SIES) organization recently announced that it is stepping up its presence and programs in rural areas of West Central Alberta.

Funded through Alberta Health Services, SIES works to ensure communities in the region have access to education, information and referral services related to suicide, said coordinator Dawne Adkins.

As part of its increased public involvement in the district, SIES officials will tour rural communities, gauging needs, speaking to school and community officials, and organizing programs and workshops, she said.

Although the recently obtained 2010 Medical Examiner suicide statistics are the latest available provincewide, there were four suicides in the Innisfail RCMP detachment area and three in the Didsbury detachment area in 2011. All were adult males.


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