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Suicide a growing concern in rural areas


A new study shows suicide rates are climbing in Wisconsin, now one of the leading causes of death in the state, and area mental health centers are on the front line in the battle against rising suicide rates, especially in rural areas.

William Schwab, a professor with the UW Madison Department of Medicine and Community Health, said, "We find that, particularly in rural areas, there's a disproportionate increase in suicide."

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health, suicide has risen by 32% in the last two decades, and is now the 10th leading case of death in Wisconsin. North Central Health Care serves Marathon, Lincoln, and Langlade Counties, and Executive Director Gary Olsen says they have crisis centers in each county.

Olsen said, "As an organization that serves a large rural area, one of the problems that we see is finding the doctors needed to help with the therapy, but that's one thing that we strive to do well in this area is to provide those services."

Schwab also shedding light on what could be causing the increase in suicide, as well as some possible solutions, saying, "We also know that alcohol and substance abuse are contributors, so I think if we can be more proactive on those issues, I think we can be more successful. Another factor that we have to say contributes to suicide is easy access to lethal means of self-harm."

Schwab also says the stress of worrying about bills and staying afloat adds to the increase, whether someone works in a rural area or not.

If you are someone dealing with mental health issues, you can call the National Suicide Crisis Lifeline at 988.

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