Ohio suicide deaths increased in 2021 after two-year decline

Mental health experts say it’s a result of the pandemic and are seeing an increase in people using services.
Mental health experts say it’s a result of the pandemic and are seeing an increase in people using services.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 5:46 PM EDT
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BELPRE, Ohio (WTAP) - A recent study done by the Ohio Department of Health shows the rate of suicide increased in 2021.

The O.D.H. shows deaths increased in 2021 by eight percent over the previous year. This is coming after a two-year decline in the state. The data means that five Ohioans die by suicide every day, and one youth dies every 34 hours.

“Suicide is a human tragedy, and any increase is of course deeply concerning,” said ODH Director Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA. “This puts more emphasis on the importance of Governor DeWine’s efforts to prioritize the expansion of Ohio’s mental-health services. All of us, though, need to pay attention and recognize when someone is struggling and know where they can turn to for help.”

Other key findings of the 2021 report include:

  • In 2021, suicide was the second-leading cause of death among Ohioans 10-34 years of age and the 12th-leading cause of death in Ohio, overall.
  • From 2020 to 2021, white non-Hispanic males and females had the largest increases in the rate of suicide (7%).
  • In 2021, adults 25-44 years of age had the highest rate of suicide, which increased 13% from 2020, compared with 5% increases among other reported age groups.
  • Among males in 2021, those 75-years and older had the highest rate of suicide.
  • Among females in 2021, those 45-54-years-old had the highest number and rate of suicide.

Belpre Counseling and Wellness Center chief executive officers and owners, Stephen Givens and Michael Moore said a lot of this is a result of post-pandemic.

“For a person that maybe struggling with mental health and suicidal thoughts and ideation, reaching out and asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. We really want to overcome the stigma that reaching out for mental health is somehow different from health treatment. Because mental health is health,” Moore said.

Both of them are seeing an increase in people using their services and seeking help for mental health, as well as providing ways to notice signs of if someone may be dealing with thoughts of suicide.

“One is just, like Mike is saying, when you see something, say something. And number two is, get them to a place to be able to get them the help that they need. That’s what they need,” Givens said.

Givens and Moore said if you are struggling with mental health to contact the 988 number, or to use the Counseling and Wellness Center hotline, (304) 485-1721.