A new study shows that Appalachian counties in Ohio make up nine of 10 of Ohio’s highest suicide rates per 100,000 people.

The data, which were obtained from the Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Ohio Death Certificate File showed that suicides accounted for 1.3 percent of all Ohio deaths between 2008 and 2017. There were 15,246 suicide fatalities between January 2008 and December 2017. Suicide deaths were responsible for 526,501 years of lost life in Ohio during the 10 years, according to the study, which was conducted by The Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health.

Meigs County had the highest suicide rate in Ohio at 21.5 per 100,000. Jackson County was at 19.9 and Hocking County was at 19.7.

In 2018, the population of Meigs County was 23,106, according to the Census Bureau. Hocking County’s population was estimated at 28,835, and Jackson County’s population was predicted at 32,384. These three counties only make up 0.7 percent of the estimated population of Ohio of 11,689,442

The rate for Athens County was 11.27 per 100,000. The total number of suicides was 73, according to the study. There were 2,290 years of life lost in Athens County. Athens County’s population was estimated at 65,818 in 2018.

The average suicide rate per 100,000 people for the time period was 13.2, according to the study.

The average ten-year rate for men was 21.4, while the suicide rate for women was 5.4, according to the study.

The highest suicide age group in 2017 was that of young adults, or people between the ages of 20 and 29, at 20.1 years old.

Suicide rates rose more than 36 percent for people that are between 20 and 29 years old. Suicide rates rose about 57 percent for people 60 years old or older in the past 10 years, according to the study.

Rick Hodges, director of The Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health, said that the years of lost life expectancy was “largely attributed” to the increase in suicide rates of people younger than 29, according to the study.

Suicide rates were highest for people who were white at 14.6. African Americans were at 7.4 and “other minorities” were at 4.9, according to the study.

Suicide by guns was the highest rate of death at 50.9 percent of all suicides. 

“Suicide is a serious public health issue,” Lori Criss, director of the Department of Mental health and Addiction Services, said. “Tackling this issue in Ohio will require collaborative efforts that cross state government, private partners, community mental health and addiction boards, and providers, colleges and universities and others.”

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