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9 suicides in county in 2016

Our view: Let’s raise awareness of suicide, mental health


There were nine deaths by suicide in 2016 in McLeod County, the county’s medical examiner reported Tuesday.
 That figure may not seem overly alarming, when you consider that there about 34,000 residents in the county, and that there were 224 deaths reported to the medical examiner in 2016. It makes nine deaths seem like a small percentage.
But here is the other statistic — nine suicides is the highest experienced in McLeod County since the medical examiner began working in the county several years ago. Looking back over the past five years, there were four suicides in each of 2015 and 2014, two in 2013, and six in 2012.
It needs to be stressed that the medical examiner only reports deaths, it doesn’t report the number of suicide attempts. Obviously, there were more attempts than actual deaths.
Nine deaths by suicide may not be an alarming number, but it should still trigger a red flag. We don’t want to see this figure continue or grow in the future.
Another statistic provided by the medical examiner is that there was only one death by motor vehicle accident in 2016, a motorcycle accident. There were four in 2015, two each in 2014 and 2013, and eight in 2012.
Again, not an alarming number, but it is heartening to see that number decline since 2012.
As many know, there is an effort in Meeker and McLeod counties to reduce the number of accidents and, more importantly, fatalities on our area roads.
The Meeker/McLeod Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) coalition has done a great job with an information campaign by using newspaper articles and social media posts to bring awareness to the issues behind motor vehicle accidents.
We don’t know, of course, if Meeker/McLeod TZD efforts have helped drive down traffic accident fatalities in our area, but the information has to be helping people become more aware of their driving habits and be more aware on the road.
Both suicides and vehicle accidents are what we would consider to be preventable deaths.
Perhaps it’s time for a similar coalition similar to TZD to start bringing awareness to the issue of suicide.
Education never hurts, and it often helps. And, in this case, it just might save lives.
— L.C.