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September is Suicide Prevention Month and September 10-16 is Suicide Prevention Week — both aim at raising awareness of this growing issue.

Close to 800,000 people a year die by suicide, and it is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds, according to the World Health Organization.

America’s Health Rankings found that while both Kentucky and the national average of suicides per year are increasing, Kentucky’s ratings are higher. Last year, Kentucky had 17.1 deaths caused by suicide per 100,000 population. The national average last year was 13.9 per 100,000 population. Compared to the same statistic from five years ago, both rates have gone up, with Kentucky’s rate of 15.4, and the national rate of 12.7 in 2013.

Men in Kentucky committed suicide at a rate of 27.7 per 100,000 population in 2016. The national average was 22.2.

The rate for women in Kentucky was 7.3, higher than the national average of 6.2.

The highest rate of suicide that year in Kentucky was from those who were aged 45-54 at 26.3.

The National Center for Health Statistics found that between 2012-2016, Knox County had 23 deaths by suicide, which equates to a rate of 14.7 per 100,000 population. Laurel County saw 33 deaths by suicide at a rate of 15.7. Whitley County too had 33 deaths by suicide for a rate of 17.8 for the same time period.

Reasons for suicide can range from mental health issues, to economic hardships, to being bullied, etc. There is no one cause for suicide.

The most agreed upon method to prevent suicide is to raise awareness, and talk about the issues that may lead to one harming themselves.

Events like the Suicide and Bullying Prevention 1 Mile Walks being hosted by the Whitley County Health Department and Cumberland River Behavioral Health are prime examples of how to help raise awareness toward suicide here at home. The first of the two walks will be this Saturday at Bill Woods Park in Williamsburg. Registration is set to begin at 3 p.m., and the walk is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. Savanna McKiney and Brandon Prewitt will be special speakers.

The second walk will be Saturday, Sept. 21, at Nibroc Park on Main Street in Corbin. Registration and walk start times are the same as the previous week’s walk. Dulcena Fuson will be the special speaker.

Both walks will be led by State Representative Regina Huff and Melissa Lawson.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting "START" to 741-741. You can also visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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