Suicide

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to launch a new three-digit hotline for people who are feeling suicidal or are going through any other mental health crisis. It recommends making 988 the new national number to call for help, replacing the current 10-digit number.

The agency presented the idea to Congress in a report earlier this month and is expected to release more information and seek public comment about the proposal in the coming months.

Wendy Rigby/Texas Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

In this installment of our "Spotlight on Health" series, we're looking at access to health care – something that can be a problem for many military veterans. 

Robert Wilkie, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, says wait times at VA clinics have shown "marked improvement" since 2014 when the agency was embroiled in controversy. In one example from that time, a Phoenix VA facility was criticized for having extremely long wait times. 

Rick Bowmer/AP

For the second time in three years, life expectancy in the U.S. has ticked downward. In three reports issued Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out a series of statistics that revealed some troubling trend lines — including rapidly increasing rates of death from drug overdoses and suicide.

CDC Director Robert Redfield described the data as "troubling."

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Twelve percent of teenagers in Texas said they attempted suicide in 2017, according to a report released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's higher than the national average of 7 percent.

Seventeen percent of ninth- through 12th-graders surveyed in Texas said they seriously considered suicide last year, and 14 percent said they had made a plan for how to do it.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard.

In what many would call the "Bible Belt" of the Lone Star State, an ugly reality looms. Communities in East Texas are grappling with a suicide rate that’s higher than any of the other most populous counties in the state.

MellieRene4/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

This is part three of a series on “suicide by cop.” What does it mean? Who are the victims? Why is this happening? 

On New Year’s Day 2015, Marisela Martinez walked into the Hidalgo County Jail swinging what was later determined to be a BB pistol. She said she just committed a robbery at a nearby bail bonds business and she'd shoot anyone who came near. People in the waiting room ran for safety. Officers arrived on the scene. The woman screamed: "Shoot me! Shoot me!"

The case looks like the textbook scenario of someone attempting "suicide by cop” – instances which are happening more and more frequently. But are incidents like this, in fact, on the rise? Or are we simply more plugged in and therefore hearing more about them? 

 


Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle

From Texas Standard:

Sandra Bland’s case has made international headlines. But as the Houston Chronicle reported this week, Bland’s suicide is hardly a one-off incident in Texas county jails. Since 2009, 140 inmates in Texas jails have died by suicide; that’s when the state started tracking those numbers. Journalist Sinjin Smith has been following the issue for some time. His most recent article on this issue focuses on the methods and ways that inmates complete suicide in jail. He investigated the case of Danarian Hawkins, who was found last year hanging from a noose he’d made from a bed sheet tied to his cell’s sprinkler system.

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Social Media sites have increasingly become a platform where teenagers turn to document their daily activities and thoughts—some which can be serious. Friends of the student who committed suicide at Lanier High School this week say he posted a note and a photo of himself with the weapon on Facebook before he committed suicide.

The student's tragic death comes as researchers from Brigham Young University have found young people with suicidal thoughts or behaviors may be using things like Twitter or Facebook to cry for help.

Financial advisor S. Mark Powell ran the Austin office of money management firm Atlantic Trust until his death on May 16.

Powell's body was found in a cemetery in Mason County, where the cause of death has not been determined.  Sheriff Buster Nixon says that a final ruling will be made after toxicology tests come back, but that "everything (he's) seen is consistent with a self-inflicted wound."

The number of suicide deaths in the U.S. military surged to a record 349 last year — more than the 295 Americans who died fighting in Afghanistan in 2012. The numbers were first reported by the AP; NPR has confirmed them.

Soldiers in Afghanistan
Image courtesy the U.S. Army

The Department of Defense released suicide data for October on Friday, reporting 25 potential suicides. That brings the total number of suicides so far this year to 172, meaning we've already surpassed the overall total for 2009, according to the National Journal.