July 13, 2024 Donate

Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Saline

Washtenaw County Health Department Releases Suicide Report

 Community News  

*Please take note of the media resources at the bottom of this release for best practices and recommendations for reporting on suicide. 

  The Washtenaw County Health Department is releasing a new Suicide Report detailing local suicide data trends through 2023. Overall Washtenaw County suicide death rates suggest a promising decrease in recent years, but it is too early to know if this trend is truly shifting. The suicide rate among Washtenaw County residents continues to remain below both the Michigan and national suicide completion rates. 

“Mental health has a significant impact on our community,” says Kaitlin Schwarz, MPH, Washtenaw County Health Department epidemiologist. “We hope this report provides useful data for our local mental health professionals and researchers as we work together to improve mental health and prevent deaths.” 

In 2023, 37 Washtenaw County residents died by suicide (note that all 2023 data is preliminary). 89% of these deaths were among white residents. Men continue to be overrepresented in suicide deaths, making up 74% of suicide deaths from 2021 to 2023.  

Suicides among young people have been of concern in Washtenaw County for several years. Preliminary data from 2023 suggest a hopeful trend that the suicide rate may be decreasing among this population. However, recent data show a concerning rise in suicide completions and attempts among older adults. 

Though overall local suicide completions appear to be trending down, the rate of suicide attempts has increased in recent years. This increase in attempts is not equal for all subgroups: rates of suicide attempts among people under 25 have been declining since 2021 but attempt rates have increased among adults 25-44 years old and 65+ years old. 

“Mental health support and treatment can save lives,” continues Schwarz. “We encourage everyone to take mental health concerns seriously. Suicide is preventable and we urge our community members to reach out for help if they need it or are concerned about someone else.” 

This is the second annual Suicide Report the Washtenaw County Health Department has released. Additional data is available in the full report: https://bit.ly/sr529. Visit washtenaw.org/suicide for more local data and resources. 

Local suicide prevention work 

Mental health was identified as a top health issue in Washtenaw County’s latest Community Health Assessment. Workgroups are currently developing goals and action plans to improve local mental health. 

To prevent firearm deaths, the Health Department has a limited supply of free gun locks available to community members. Visit the Health Department (555 Towner in Ypsilanti) during business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm) to pick one up from the clinic reception desk. 

The Wish You Knew Washtenaw campaign works to reduce stigma and promote resources for youth mental health. Driven by community conversations and funded by the Washtenaw County Mental Health and Public Safety Preservation Millage, the campaign aims to spark honest and supportive conversations about mental health between youth and adults. 

Washtenaw Alive is the suicide prevention planning collaborative of Washtenaw County. The coalition meets virtually on Zoom every third Thursday of the month at 12pm. New members, collaborators, and guest speakers are always welcome. 

Suicide prevention resources 

Suicide is preventable and help is available. Anyone in Washtenaw County can call the Community Mental Health CARES team 24/7 with any mental health questions or concerns: 734-544-3050. If you feel suicidal, call 988, text 988, or visit https://988lifeline.org/chat/ for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741741 (Crisis Text Line). If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. 

It’s important to know the warning signs for those at risk of suicide, including: 

  • Talking about wanting to die, feeling hopeless or having no purpose, feeling trapped or in unbearable pain, or being a burden to others
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • 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

If someone you know shows warning signs of suicide, assume you are the only one who will reach out. Take them seriously, talk to them in private, and ask directly if they are thinking about suicide. See more recommendations on what to do if someone is at risk of suicide here. 

Media resources 

Media plays an important role in preventing suicide. We encourage media to consider these safe reporting recommendations to minimize hopelessness and to increase help-seeking when covering this report and topics related to suicide. Note that the Suicide Report contains data on methods. This is important public health information, but sharing method details can be harmful to those who are struggling and has shown to cause contagion, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.