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SSW Led Effort Finds "Men, rural residents, at highest risk of suicide in Michigan"

From Capital News Service and Crystal Chen

In Michigan, one person dies by suicide about every six hours.

That statistic puts the state right in the middle of a national trend.

Suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death among Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and in 2016, the national age-adjusted suicide rate reached the highest level in decades.

In Michigan the response to increasing suicide rates has been to focus on two groups overly represented: men and rural residents.

Men are four times more likely to die by suicide, and men account for 79 percent of all U.S. suicides, a CDC study found. It’s the fourth-leading cause of death among men ages 35-54.

“Men do not always recognize that they are experiencing a diagnosable mental illness such as depression or bipolar disorder,” said Courtney Miner, the program manager of Healthy Men Michigan.

The Healthy Men Michigan campaign promotes mental health among men 25-64 and isfunded in collaboration with the CDC.

Male depression, a risk factor for suicide, goes undiagnosed 50-65 percent of the time, Miner said. Other risk factors among working-age men include financial problems, alcohol and drug abuse, legal problems and life stressors.

Jodi Jacobson Frey, a principal investigator of the Healthy Men Michigan Campaign Research Project and an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, said that “unique approaches specifically tailored to the needs of this hard-to-reach population” are needed because of their unusually high risk of suicidee, coupled with their limited use of mental health resources.

The situation is worse in rural areas. A CDC study found that people are more likely to commit suicide in rural areas than in urban ones.

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