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David Morgan
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Working to Reduce Suicide Rates in New Mexico

September 14, 2018 - Suicide Prevention - Blog

A very sad reality facing New Mexicans is that too many of our friends and family are not reaching for the help they need or perhaps we are not equipped to recognize the signs.

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and I encourage everyone during the month of September during National Suicide Prevention Month to learn the warning signs of suicide and link to the resources available in our state to help prevent this important public health concern that impacts so many of our loved ones.

We’ve released new data from 2017 revealing that the number of suicides in New Mexico in 2017 rose to 492, down from 498 deaths in 2015 but up from 469 deaths in 2016. This represents a 4.9% increase over last year.

Suicides are preventable, and we are one of at least two state agencies actively working to save lives.  As part of our ongoing State Health Improvement Plan implementation, we are collecting, analyzing and sharing information about suicidal behaviors to help community partners develop and implement efforts to reduce deaths.

NMDOH plays a role in addressing suicide in addition to state mental health services overseen by the Human Services Department (HSD).  HSD runs the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line, where in July 31.8 percent of calls were suicide related. Of that, 90.7 percent were stabilized by a counselor and referred to community resources, where appropriate.

In addition, our ongoing NMDOH prevention efforts include sharing data with communities and local organizations, as well as training public school staff and community members statewide in suicide prevention practices. These presentations include information on how to identify and support people at risk.

You should know the risks too, but please remember, there’s no one single cause why someone chooses suicide. Risk factors include depression, abuse relationships, health conditions, substance use, financial challenges, and legal problems – but these only scratch the surface. No matter what the reasons, no matter if they are family or total strangers, it’s important to remember anyone at risk needs our love and support.

Warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
    Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk.  If someone you know exhibits warning signs of imminent suicide:

  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • Call the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line at 1-855-NMCRISIS (662-7474) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional. 

For more information, please visit our Suicide Prevention page.