Alaska suicide rate increases 13 percent during 2012-17 period

Alaska suicide rate increases 13 percent during 2012-17 period

Suicide was the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 64.

ANCHORAGE — A new state study shows the suicide rate in Alaska has increased in recent years.

There was a 13 percent increase in suicides between 2012 and 2017 compared to a similar period from 2007 to 2011, Alaska Public Media reported.

Suicide was the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 64, according to the analysis by state health officials.

The rates were highest in northern and southwestern communities. The largest increase, however, was along the state’s Railbelt.

Also seeing a significant increase was the area covering Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The region had a 61 percent hike in suicides, compared to the earlier period.

Deborah Hull-Jilly, a state epidemiologist who worked on the report, is also starting a yearlong project with other researchers to determine why suicides have increased after several years of declines.

A separate document accompanying the report outlined toxicology results following suicides since 2015. Those tests showed 70 percent involved one or more substances, most frequently alcohol.

“That is a question that we’re going to have to answer: Are we seeing substance misuse impacting persons that are already at-risk for self-harm?” Hull-Jilly said.

Additional data on the role drugs and alcohol play in suicides could help health providers offer better treatments, Hull-Jilly said. She believes toxicology results could be a prevention strategy tool.

“We need to track those a little bit better so that we can understand how these drugs might be influencing people who are either contemplating self-harm, or something is occurring in their lives and it’s a very impulsive act,” she said.


• This is an Associated Press report.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 8

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 11, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The sky and mountains are reflected in the water on April 5, 2012, at the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest’s Admiralty Island National Monument. Conservation organizations bought some private land and transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in an incremental expansion of the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and protection of habitat important to salmon and wildlife. (Photo by Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)
Conservation groups’ purchase preserves additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A designated wilderness area in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest… Continue reading

A welcome sign is shown Sept. 22, 2021, in Tok. President Joe Biden won Alaska’s nominating contest on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Biden wins more delegates in Alaska and Wyoming as he heads toward Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden nudged further ahead in the Democratic nomination for reelection… Continue reading

Juneau Assembly members and other visitors examine a meeting room formerly used by the nine-member Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development on Monday, April 8, which is about 25% larger than the Assembly Chambers at City Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Of three possible new City Hall buildings, one stands out — but plenty of proposed uses for other two

Michael J. Burns Building eyed as city HQ; childcare, animal shelter among options at school sites.

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, speaks to members of the Senate majority caucus’ leadership group on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Schools, university and projects across Alaska are set to receive money from new budget bill

Alaska Senate sends draft capital budget to House as work continues on a state spending plan

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska judge strikes down state’s cash payments to families using correspondence school programs

Decision will become a ‘hot-button legislative item’ in final weeks of session, lawmakers say.

A statue of William Henry Seward stands outside the Dimond Courthouse in downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau man convicted of sexual abuse of 15-year-old girl more than four years after incidents occur

JPD: Randy James Willard, 39, sent explicit videos to and engaged in sexual contact with victim.

Most Read