Eagle County suicide rate well ahead of national average, with 12 deaths so far this year | VailDaily.com

Eagle County suicide rate well ahead of national average, with 12 deaths so far this year

David O. Williams
Special to the Daily
Chris Lindley
Special to the Daily |

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EAGLE COUNTY — There have been 12 suicides so far this year in Eagle County — five more than the annual average and a staggering pace of 23 per 100,000 residents. The Colorado per capita suicide rate was 20.3 per 100,000 residents in 2016, which is well ahead of the national rate of 13.3 suicides per 100,000 in 2015.

What’s alarming to Eagle County Public Health Director Chris Lindley, an epidemiologist by trade, is that a county of just more than 53,000 people is on a record pace for suicides this year and we’re just now entering the holiday season, when there are typically more suicide deaths.

‘Nobody’s talking about that’

“Right now in Eagle County, this year, there’s been 12 suicides,” Lindley said. “Nobody’s talking about that. That is more than last year, and we’re only part way through the year. The majority of those suicides have been women. Normally suicides are 9-to-1 men to women.

“Why aren’t we asking ourselves what the hell is going on? Why are our moms and our sisters and our daughters taking their lives? What are we missing here?”

But Lindley also urges people to connect with other people. Look out for your friends and neighbors, and ask them how they’re doing.

“We’ve got to change this culture of everything’s just in time and I’m going to text you or Facebook or Twitter you versus I’m just going to walk up and ask you how you’re doing, or I’m going to go for a walk with you, or I’m going to come hang out,” Lindley said.

“We have to schedule and make time to have personal interaction with each other. We are fundamentally human, we’re mammals. We’re designed for that. And I think one of the biggest increases in mental health illness is a lack of social interaction that people are having.”

Nothing can substitute for actually interacting with other people and assessing their mood, Lindley said, especially this time of year.

“As technology improves, it’s actually hurting us,” Lindley said. “It’s not helping us. Talking to someone via text message, there’s no real social connectiveness between two people. You can’t read their body language or anything like that.”

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