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Oregon Public Broadcasting: Oregon Suicide Rates Dropped in 2020, Advocates Say Prevention Programs Helped

March 31, 2022

Oregon Public Broadcasting published an article analyzing the state’s decline in suicide rates, giving credit to violence prevention programs for the encouraging trend. In the piece, Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown said  “guns are the most lethal form of suicide attempt . . . If [we] look at all 50 states ranking, states with higher gun ownership and lower gun storage laws have high rates of suicide.” 

Earlier this month, Oregon’s legislature passed legislation allotting $43.25 million to ensure violence intervention programs, domestic violence-related services and programs, and suicide prevention efforts were well-funded in the state following the advocacy efforts of volunteers from Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action among other partners. Oregon lawmakers also passed HB 4045, legislation to ensure Medicaid covers violence intervention services provided in hospitals after someone suffers a violent injury and continues to be at risk. 

Gun violence conversations often revolve around homicides, however, six out of every 10 gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides. Every year, an average of 440 people in Oregon die by gun suicides and 32 are wounded by gun suicide attempts. In Oregon, 81% of gun deaths are suicides, and of the 11 congressional districts nationwide with more than 100 gun suicides a year, two of them are in Oregon

From the article:

“Oregon had the nation’s 13th highest suicide rate in 2020, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. About 833 people died by suicide statewide. It ranked ninth the year before, when 906 people died by suicide.

The decrease may come as a surprise to people who expected suicide rates to increase with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic recession. But Oregon Health Authority analyst Jill Baker, who focuses on youth suicide prevention, said she expected the improvement.

Oregon in 2020 had a 14% drop in suicides among people ages 24 and younger compared to the year prior, according to the state’s Youth Suicide Intervention and Prevention Plan annual report. It saw a drop from 118 deaths in 2019 to 102 deaths in 2020.”

Full article is available here. To speak with a Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action volunteer, or a policy expert on the importance of violence intervention programs, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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