The Dec. 22 issue of the Milton Independent included “Police Stats,” which had the category “Attempted Suicide.” Four attempts were recorded in 2010 and 18 in 2011, a 78-percent increase.
Deputy Health Commissioner Patrick Flood recently revealed that Vermont has the 16th-highest suicide rate in the U.S., 14 suicides per 100,000 population compared to a national average of 11.3. Additionally, the Vermont Mental Health Performance Indicator Project showed a 15-percent increase in suicides from September 2010 through August 2011.
Oregon’s 15.2 average, according to the Oregon Heath Authority, is 35 percent higher than the national average, The authority also reports that rates have increased significantly since 2000, and that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among Oregonians aged 10 to 24. Perhaps coincidentally, Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide in 1997.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention analyzed the latest, comprehensive data from our Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2009. Selected CDC findings include: Suicide, now the 10th-leading cause of death; an estimated 18-25 attempted suicides take place for every suicide death; suicide is the sixth-leading cause of death among those age 5-14, the third for ages 15-24, and the fourth for ages 18-65.
Continued efforts in Vermont by proponents of doctor-prescribed death over the years send a clear message to our youth and others that suicide is an acceptable way to opt out of problems and difficulties that seem insurmountable. Our Legislature soundly defeated an attempt several years ago. Let’s be done with this negative, opt-out fixation and concentrate on counseling, prevention programs, palliative care, including pain alleviation; in short, compassionate care for Vermonters of all ages.