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County ties all-time suicide record; one still to be determined

Dec 28, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Highest suicide

totals on record

in Fremont County

1985 -- 18

2006 -- 18

2012 -- 18*

* total could rise pending

further investigation

The Fremont County Coroner's Office handled a record-tying 18 suicides this year, and Coroner Ed McAuslan said one more death may be attributed to suicide after 2013 arrives.

"We still have one pending that will put us over the record ... depending on the results of the autopsy," he said Thursday. "But we probably won't get those results until after the first (of January)."

The last time 18 people died by suicide in Fremont County was in 2006, and the record was initially set in 1985. McAuslan couldn't guess why the rate was high again this year, but he said most of the incidents involved substance abuse.

"While I can't say they're all specifically related to that, it seems to be the one common denominator that keeps coming up," McAuslan said. "I think that's (true) in general."

None of this year's suicides was by a juvenile, he added.

The deaths were scattered across the county.

Education

Though he does not anticipate more funding from the county for suicide prevention, McAuslan plans to combat the increase in self-inflicted deaths by further educating the community about warning signs and available resources.

A state-funded suicide prevention group exists locally, and McAuslan spends a portion of his budget from the county on outreach.

"We want to step up our efforts (by) getting people to watch for symptoms and getting them to report things if they see something," McAuslan said. "If a person is talking about taking their life ... take it seriously."

Residents can call law enforcement for help with an imminent threat, or they can contact Fremont County Public Health at 332-1073 for more resources.

McAuslan said training also is available locally for people who want additional information, and the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at (800) 273-8255.

"Our community ... has to pull together and work together to reduce this mortality rate," McAuslan said.

Warning signs of suicide include:

- talking about wanting to die;

- looking for a way to kill oneself

- talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;

- talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain;

- talking about being a burden to others;

- increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;

- acting anxious, agitated or reckless;

- sleeping too little or too much;

- withdrawing or feeling isolated;

- showing rage or talking about seeking revenge;

- displaying extreme mood swings.

The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk of suicide.

A person exhibiting warning signs of suicide should not be left alone, and that person should not have access to firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

The person should go to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

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