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Mental health challenges
Omaha World-Herald - 6/20/2018
Recent items in the news plus sobering findings by federal health analysts underscore our society's need to do more to address depression and the potential for suicide.
Chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain died June 8 from an apparent suicide. Only a few days earlier, designer Kate Spade, who had struggled with depression for years, took her own life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at suicide numbers from 1999 to 2016 and found that, during that period, suicide rates increased in nearly every U.S. state. In some cases, the increases were dramatic. North Dakota, at 57.6 percent, led the nation in the greatest increase in the annual number of such deaths, followed by Vermont (48.6), New Hampshire (48.3) and Kansas (45).
Iowa experienced a considerable increase of 36.2 percent. Nebraska's increase was 16.2 percent.
During 2016, suicides nationwide reached nearly 45,000. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, the CDC says, and is one of only three leading causes that are on the rise. The others are Alzheimer's disease and drug overdoses.
Depression and the potential for suicide among young people are receiving growing attention from medical professionals. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors screen all kids ages 12 and up for depression annually. Only half of adolescents with depression are diagnosed before reaching adulthood, a study reported.
A wide variety of medical institutions in Nebraska and Iowa are commendably taking such steps, The World-Herald'sJulie Anderson has reported.
In Nebraska, an array of institutions have come together to address youth suicide in a coordinated fashion. The groups include nonprofits, government agencies, medical centers, school systems and clergy. The Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition is the central coordinator.
Nebraska uses evidence-based, online software to train school personnel in understanding warning signs and appropriate responses.
Health officials also note that suicide trends show a need to focus on mental health care for the middle-aged population, too. The largest rate increase for 1999 to 2016, the CDC found, was for adults aged 45 to 64, rising to 19.2 per 100,000 in 2016 from 13.2 per 100,000 in 1999.
Resources that help people of all ages:
» Nebraska Family Helpline, 888-866-8660.
» Nebraska Rural Response Hotline, 800-464-0258.
» National suicide prevention hotline, 800-273-TALK (8255).
Hotlines and websites focusing on youths:
» Your Life Iowa Hotline, 855-581-8111.
» Boys Town National Hotline, 800-448-3000.
Mental health challenges can take an enormous toll on families and on our nation. In the wake of the CDC's findings, it's clear the issue deserves a stepped-up response.