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Suicide Attempts Among New Mexico Teens Drop By 35 Percent: Here's Why

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Though the number of suicide attempts still remains high, suicide rates in New Mexico has decreased by 35 percent since 2013.

Health officials cite implemented suicide prevention programs and support systems as the reasons for this positive development.

A survey conducted by the New Mexico Department of Health's Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey among New Mexico high school students in 2013 reported that only 9.4 percent of them had attempted suicide compared to 2003's 14.5 percent.

The number of students who had to be hospitalized after the attempt was 3.1 percent compared to 2003's 7.5. Despite the drop, New Mexico youth's suicide attempt rate still exceeds that of the U.S by far.

Suicide rate in New Mexico for people 15 to 24 years old is still high at 18.7 percent per 100,000 people. In 2013, New Mexico ranked seventh among states with the most number of suicide attempts in the country.

"There's been a national trend of decreasing risk behaviors in a lot of these areas," state epidemiologist Dan Green said. "New Mexico's youth suicide rate is still high."

In a continuous effort to prevent further incidents, the Department of Health established a statewide prevention program, which received $1 million in funding from the state to train parents, community groups, first responders and other medical personnel to watch out for and monitor potential risks.

Yolanda Cordova, school and adolescent health director of the department, said that suicide prevention programs are being implemented by about 500 school nurses and 460 health assistants at more than 50 school-based health centers. The centers also have peer mentoring programs, which empower student leaders to give support and suicide awareness to other students.

"Peers at this age tend to listen to their peers," Cordova said. Mentoring from peers "helps reduce the stigma associated with being a person who might feel depressed."

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that suicide remains the third leading cause of death among adolescents. There have been several causes of suicide though a primary cause is depression, described as a medical condition that involves feelings of despair, fatigue, lack of interest and self-depreciation.

In the U.S., there are several interventions to prevent suicide and encourage recovering from depression. Parents, guardians and other responsible adults can be trained to pick up manifestations of depression and suicidal behaviors, such as withdrawal, lethargy, apathy toward once pleasurable activities, and talking about or divulging plans of attempting suicide.

Calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or seeking professional help is also recommended.

"Suicide is an enormous trauma for millions of Americans who experience the loss of someone close to them," said Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. assistant secretary for health and former surgeon-general. "The nation must address suicide as a serious public health problem and put into place national strategies to prevent the loss of life and the suffering suicide causes."

Photo: Moodboard | Flickr

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