Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Press Release

New Data Analysis Shows Impact of Suicide in Wisconsin

Wisconsin's updated suicide prevention plan will be released later this year

By - Sep 10th, 2019 10:45 am

Today, Suicide Prevention Day (link is external), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) released findings from its most recent analysis of state suicide deaths and suicide-related injury. This analysis is part of an effort to update Wisconsin’s suicide prevention plan and reduce the number of suicide attempts and deaths.

This analysis found:

  • The state’s suicide rate rose 40% between 2000 and 2017.
  • From 2013-2017, suicide rates in Wisconsin were highest among individuals ages 45-54.
  • Of all state deaths by firearm from 2013-2017, 71% were suicide deaths.
  • In 2017, the majority of individuals who died by suicide in Wisconsin were male.
  • In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death among adolescents in Wisconsin.

“In order to save lives, we must be unified in our suicide prevention efforts,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Suicide affects far too many Wisconsin families and communities and requires a comprehensive approach to prevention that addresses the range of factors contributing to an individual’s emotional pain. Coordination and cooperation from every sector of society, including government, public health, health care, employers, education, media, and community organizations is critical for us to be effective in our prevention work.”

The data analysis was published as a part of a preview of an upcoming report that seeks to mobilize and guide state action to reduce suicide attempts and deaths—Suicide in Wisconsin: Impact and Response—due to be released by the end of 2019 by Prevent Suicide Wisconsin (link is external), a public-private partnership that includes DHS and other state agencies, local suicide prevention coalitions, and local health departments.

Learn more about suicide prevention efforts in Wisconsin at DHS’s new webpage which provides critical information for helping someone in emotional pain and includes a list of statewide and national resources. It also includes a video message from Wisconsin First Lady Kathy Evers encouraging people to reach out for help if they are struggling.

“Many of us have been touched by the issue of suicide personally and want to learn more about how we can help ourselves and our loved ones,” said Mrs. Evers. “If you are struggling, please know that you’re not alone and there are resources and people throughout Wisconsin available to help you.”

Wisconsin’s updated suicide prevention plan focuses on four areas:

  • Increase and enhance protective factors, including efforts that build social connections to family, friends, co-workers, therapists, faith leaders, and other supports for at-risk populations and reduce access to substances and weapons.
  • Increase access to care for at-risk populations, including expanded use of smartphone apps, telehealth, and non-clinical support services.
  • Implement best practices for prevention in health care systems, including tools for screening, assessment, and treatment.
  • Improve surveillance of suicide and evaluation of programs, including efforts to standardize the investigating and reporting of suicide deaths.

Suicide is also one of the five priority areas of Healthy Wisconsin (link is external), the state’s health assessment and improvement plan.

For free, confidential emotional support and resources before a struggle becomes a crisis, call 800-273-8255 or text HOPELINE to 741741.

Reporters covering this issue are encouraged to review the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide (link is external) for important guidance on ways to communicate on suicide.

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