The most recent state records show 369 Iowans took their own lives in 2010. Mark Vander Linden, with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), says the suicide rate among Iowa’s young population is of particular concern.
“Iowa’s 14th in the nation for suicide rates among teens and young adults aged 15 to 24 years old. For those who are 15 to 19, it’s the second leading cause of death (in Iowa),” Vander Linden said.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. There are several risk factors and warning signs for parents, friends and other to watch for to prevent a loved one from taking their own life.
“The most common sign would be making a suicide a plan and the more specific the plan, the higher the risk…statements from somebody about feeling hopeless or what it would be like when they’re gone,” Vander Linden said.
Most people who commit suicide have talked about it or given definite warning signs, according to Vander Linden. This past April, a northwest Iowa teenager who openly admitted to being gay killed himself. His family said he was being bullied on-line and at school.
“Youth who are bullied are definitely at a higher risk,” Vander Linden said. “There’s a recent study by Yale University that found victims of bullying are two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.”
Governor Branstad has scheduled a “Bullying Prevention Summit” to be held in Des Moines on November 27.