DeKalb Suicide Rate Declines in 2011 But Still Higher Than State and National Average

March 16, 2013
Dwayne Page

In 2011, the latest year for which county-specific figures are available, DeKalb County's age-adjusted suicide rate was 26.5 per 100,000 people, translating into five reported suicide deaths. This rate and number are down from the previous year but still above the state and national average as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Hancock County had the state's highest suicide rate among the state's ninety five counties at 74.5 per 100,000 with five deaths and Johnson County had the lowest rate at 5.5 per 100,000 with one death.

DeKalb County's suicide rate was at 16.6 per 100,000 in 2006 and 2007 with three deaths each of those years. But the rate soared to 48.1 per 100,000 in 2008 with nine deaths. The rate dropped to 26.5 per 100,000 with five deaths in 2009 but went back up to 37.4 per 100,000 with seven deaths in 2010. The year 2012 numbers are not available.

Jackson County recorded the highest suicide rate among the fourteen Upper Cumberland Counties for 2011. Here's how they ranked from highest to lowest.

Jackson 52.8 per 100,000 (6 deaths)
White 42.1 (11)
Clay 38.6 (3)
Van Buren 36.6 (2)
Fentress 33.3 (6)
Macon 26.7 (6)
DeKalb 26.5 (5)
Pickett 19.6 (1)
Cannon 14.6 (2)
Putnam 13.7 (10)
Cumberland 10.6 (6)
Smith 10.4 (2)
Warren 10 (4)
Overton 9 (2)

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) has published its Status of Suicide in Tennessee 2013 report, detailing suicide trends and prevention efforts in Tennessee. The current report includes a summary of suicide trends within Tennessee, both overall and for various subgroups.

Tennessee's age-adjusted suicide rate for 2011 was 14.6 per 100,000 people, translating into 938 reported suicide deaths. This rate and number are down from previous years but are still above the national average of 12.4 per 100,000 as reported for the year 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Rates among teens and older adults, both groups traditionally at high suicide risk, remain stable. White males aged 35-64 account for the largest share of suicide deaths, and suicide rates are higher for white males across the lifespan.

Attention is also given to the nature of non-fatal versus fatal attempts and common suicide methods-almost two-thirds of all suicides in Tennessee involve a firearm.

"At least 150 Tennesseans who deeply care about the suicide prevention are meeting monthly to raise their own suicide awareness and to implement activities that educate their communities about suicide. They are also working together to apply the Tennessee Strategies for Suicide Prevention," observes TSPN Advisory Council Chair Jennifer Harris. "The maintenance and growth of the regional and county efforts should inspire all of us."

The document also includes a summary of common suicide risk factors and an account of TSPN's suicide prevention projects. The report concludes with a listing of suicide numbers and rates for all 95 Tennessee counties for the years 2006 through 2011.

All over the state, TSPN offers presentations and training sessions for schools, churches, and civic groups and partnerships with state departments and other non-profits. TSPN also networks with and faith-based groups to implement suicide prevention strategies; debriefs schools and other institutions affected by suicide death; and promotes awareness and educational events across the state of Tennessee.

"Of course, our work here is hardly finished," adds TSPN Executive Director Scott Ridgway. "Our goal is not merely fewer suicides, it is zero suicides. Suicide remains a major and tragic threat to middle-aged adults in our state. The ebb of the Middle East conflicts means more soldiers will be trying to reconcile their wartime experiences with civilian life. We hope to ensure that those who have served their country will get the help they need.

"We hope that the Status of Suicide in Tennessee 2013 report will inspire everyone to join us in the ongoing effort to make zero suicides not just an objective, but a reality for the people of our state."

Status of Suicide in Tennessee 2013 will be published online via the TSPN website (

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