The suicide rate in Lane County is 65% greater than the national average. That’s according to a report released Tuesday by Lane County Public Health.
Between 2000 and 2020, the rate of suicide increased by 80%. Based on data from the report, Suicide In Lane County: Trends, Risk Factors and Recommendations, males died by suicide four times more often than females and men over age 65 were at greatest risk. Suicide rates in rural communities were two times the county average. Most suicide victims died at home with a gun they owned.
Roger Brubaker is suicide prevention coordinator for Lane County and authored the report. He said what stuck with him most was the pain so many people feel.
“That human experience that many of us have had and that some people experience just so profoundly,” he said. “And they’re our neighbors and they are our loved ones, and they live all around us. I think this report helps, in many ways, expose what so many people are going through in our community.”
The report found that one in four Lane County residents who died by suicide was a veteran or military service member. Half of the people who died during the period of the reporting had some history of a mental health problem.
The rates of suicide in Junction City, Florence and Cottage Grove were about twice the county average. Research indicates that rural populations tend to have higher rates of suicide than metropolitan populations. Brubaker said a lot has to do with health care access but there is more to it than that. It’s also about attitudes.
“In some of our rural, agricultural, communities, it’s an amazing strength that people have that they can fix their own problems on their own and work toward solutions by themselves with the resources they have,” he said.
However, that “ruggedness can be a harm,” Brubaker postulated. “Everybody needs help. And sometimes, when we live in cultures that don’t allow for that and people don’t feel like they have permission to ask for help— during times of crisis—they feel lost.”
If you are concerned that you or someone else is at risk for suicide dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or call 1-800-273-8255.