Health

Suicides Rise Slightly in San Diego County

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The number and rate of people who died by suicide in San Diego County rose slightly again last year, according to the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council’s 2019 Report to the Community released Thursday.

There were 465 deaths by suicide in 2018, up from the 458 reported in 2017.

“Suicide remains a significant issue in our communities,” said Dr. Luke Bergmann, director of Behavioral Health Services for the County Health and Human Services Agency. “But suicide can be prevented if we know the signs, find the words to talk openly about suicide and reach out for resources and support.”

The annual report provides a comprehensive look at suicide in the region and brings together data from multiple sources for the years 2014 through 2017.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Total number of suicides: 465 compared to 458 in 2017.
  • Suicide rate (per 100,000 population): 13.9 compared to 13.8 in 2017.
  • Emergency department discharges due to self-inflicted injury: Down slightly to 3,091 in 2017 (most recent year available) compared to 3,098 in 2016.
  • The percentage of suicide crisis calls, as opposed to calls about other mental health issues, to the County’s Access and Crisis Line saw a sharp 52 percent increase to 47.6 percent of calls compared to 31.4 percent in 2017.
  • Firearms have been the primary means used in suicide deaths in San Diego County and have been increasing over the last three years. Firearms account for 37 percent of the deaths by suicide, followed by hanging and suffocation at 33 percent.
There are many resources available. If you or someone you know needs help call the Access & Crisis Line at 888-724-7240 (7 days a week/24 hrs a day and multiple languages available).

The great majority of people who die by suicide show warning signs. Knowing how to spot them and what you can do may help save a life.

“Each life lost represents a tremendous tragedy for those affected, and for our community. Our challenge is to do better with more  education, increased awareness and greater access to prevention resources across the county,” said County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. “It is up to us to make a difference in our community and advocate for those who are at risk for suicide.”

To help curb suicide in San Diego, the County has several ongoing prevention efforts, including the It’s Up to Us campaign; the “Stop Firearm Suicide San Diego” initiative; the annual Check Your Mood Day; Question, Persuade and Refer trainings; and the Access and Crisis Line, a confidential counseling and referral hotline for people who feel overwhelmed or are experiencing a mental health crisis.

“I encourage everyone to visit UP2SD.org to learn more about the warning signs and risk factors for suicide, and to learn about to talk to someone openly and directly about suicide if you are worried about them,” said Bergmann.  “Helping raise awareness about suicide, educating community members and providing a safety net for those in crisis is part of the County’s Live Well San Diego vision of healthy, safe and thriving residents.”

If you or someone you know needs help call the Access & Crisis Line at 888-724-7240 (7 days a week/24 hrs a day and multiple languages available).

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact