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Police Bureau Concerned About Portland Suicide Rate


Portland’s suicide rate is 30 percent higher than the national rate, according to a new report compiled by the Portland Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit.

During period of just over two years, Portland saw an average of seven-and-a-half suicides a month. That’s about one every four days.

White males represented nearly 74 percent of all suicides reported to the police bureau, and most suicides in Portland happened during the summer months.

David Westbrook is chief operating officer of Lines for Life, an organization that works to prevent suicide. He said the most surprising statistic is that the total number of suicides during the time period studied is nearly twice the number of deaths from homicides and traffic accidents combined.

“Suicides largely happen in peoples’ homes, and it’s a quiet epidemic,” he said. “It’s a very preventable public health issue.”

Portland Police also released a video dubbed “What if You Could Turn Back the Clock on Suicide?” on Monday.

Sergeant Bob McCormick  is with Portland Police’s Behavioral Health Unit, launched earlier this year. He said officers who received advanced training in May have already defused a number of crisis situations.

In an earlier version of this story, we reported incorrect data provided in a report published by Portland Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit (BHU).

According to the Oregon Health Authority, Portland’s annual suicide rate in 2010 was 30-percent higher than the national rate. 2010 is the last year for which there are confirmed national statistics.

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