Suicide

Extent of Loss by Suicide

Suicide occurs across all economic, age, social, and racial boundaries. Suicide prevention is a significant public health concern and a top priority for the Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services (DPHCS). Although suicide prevention efforts largely focus on identifying and providing treatment for people with mental health conditions, there are many additional opportunities for prevention. We hope that shifting the culture and starting the conversation about suicide encourages people to talk more openly, increase awareness, and, ultimately, curb the trend. We are working to educate, decrease stigma, and implement change within the community.

Talking about suicide can bring up personal experiences. If you find that the following information brings up painful emotional memories, please take care of yourself and seek support that would be helpful to you.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Suicide Data Overview

Check out the points below for the main takeaways from this page. 

• In 2019, 14 out of every 100,000 Americans died by suicide, 17 out of every 100,000 New Hampshire (NH) residents died by suicide, and 21 out of every 100,000 Hillsborough County residents died by suicide.

• Nationally, there has been a 33% increase in the suicide death rate from 1999-2019. Hillsborough County went from 12 deaths per year in 1999 to 20 deaths per year in 2019, an increase of 63%, which is almost double that of the national rate.

• Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people 10 to 34 years of age, the fourth leading cause among people 35 to 54 years of age, and the eighth leading cause among people 55 to 64 years of age.

• Men are 3 times more likely to die by suicide than women, but women are 1.3 times more likely to attempt suicide. This is likely due to the fact that men are more likely to choose more lethal means, such as firearms, hanging, and suffocation.

• In 2019, 13.3% of Greater Nashua high school students made a suicide attempt plan. 

Suicide Across the Lifespan

Suicide is a problem throughout the life span, affecting all ages, and is the second leading cause of death for people 10 to 34 years of age. Suicide does not discriminate. Suicide rates vary by race/ethnicity, age, and other population characteristics, with the highest rates occurring among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic White populations. Other disproportionately impacted by suicide include Veterans and other military personnel and workers in certain occupational groups including construction, arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media. 

"To anyone out there who’s hurting - it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength." – Barack Obama

Gender Differences

Not every suicide attempt results in death, although incomplete first attempts are often followed by complete second attempts. Men are 3 times more likely to die by suicide than women, but women are 1.3 times more likely to attempt suicide. This is likely due to men using more lethal means. There is also a stigma associated with men talking about their mental health and seeking help, causing them to be less likely to communicate their feelings with others than women. Men are often less likely to seek help for emotional problems and depression is diagnosed less frequently in men because of the tendency to deny illness, self-monitor symptoms, and self-treat.

Lethal Means

Research suggests that while women attempt suicide more often, men choose more lethal means, such as firearms, hanging, and suffocation. Firearms appear to be more common when people are reacting to acute situations, which supports current recommendations to remove guns from a home in the setting of an acute mental health crisis. In NH, there are no state licensing requirements for the purchase or possession of any rifle, shotgun, or handgun, and most guns are owned by men in rural households.

Warning Signs

Talking about suicide is the first step to preventing suicide. There's no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness. Do not be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step.

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:

• Changes in sex drive

• Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations)

• Inability to perceive changes in own feelings, behavior or personality 

• Substance misuse

• Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)

• Thinking about suicide

• Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress

• An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

• Excessive worrying or fear

• Feeling excessively sad or low

• Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or "lows"

• Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning

• Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite

• Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger

• Avoiding friends and social activities

• Difficulties understanding or relating to other people

• Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy

Youth Suicide

An individuals adolescent years are ones of growth and potentiality, including education, employment, relationships, and housing. These transitions and new milestones can often cause various mental health challenges for youth that lead to increase risk for suicide.  Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on youth, individuals, families, and communities. The cause of suicide among youth is complex and often involves many factors. It takes a community to implement youth suicide prevention strategies, working to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors.

Health Equity & Suicide

A person's health can be seriously impacted by their race, ethnicity, gender, income level, education and other socioeconomic factors. In regards to suicide...

• In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans, ages 15 to 24. The death rate from suicide for African American men was more than four times greater than for African American women, in 2017 (NAMI).

• Suicide was the leading cause of death for Asian Americans, ages 15 to 24, in 2017 (Office of Minority Health, HHS).

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Looking for resources in Greater Nashua? Get Connected. Get Help. Visit 211nh.org or dial 2-1-1.