Idaho is a truly beautiful state, known for its picturesque scenery and year round recreational activities. In recent years, Idaho has hit the map becoming a top destination to travel and live, enticing those far and wide for our outdoor recreation, low crime rates, low cost of living and a small town feel in a growing city. However, Idaho hides a serious problem and has been slow to adapt to the mental health changes of the current world.
Recent studies by the CDC have discovered that over a 17 year period from 1999-2016, Idaho's suicide rate has increased 43.2%. This increase is terrifying when you consider the national average was only 25.4% and Idaho is 7th in the country in this growth. Most suicide data reports that men are more likely to commit suicide and the most used method of suicide is by gun.
It is probably no surprise that other reports of the state's spending per capita on mental health has been the lowest in the country, only spending $32.77 in 2013, compared to the country average at $119.62. Mental Health America recently ranks states by prevalence of mental health issues and access to care, Idaho was ranked 47th. These statistics were measured for different age groups, genders and looking at mental health.
Suicide and mental health are not topics we like to discuss. It is uncomfortable and most people err on the side of caution and don't discuss it either to avoid their own thoughts, issues or connections to it, or to politely allow the other person to keep their so called "problems" to themselves. This culture is slowly changing. Last year the release of "13 Reasons Why" was highly controversial because of its portrayal of teenage suicide. However, it began a conversation so badly needed. I caution, that show is intense and brings up a lot of very complicated issues, I struggled to watch it as a counselor, and needed to process quite a few of the scenes myself, but again, that lends to the idea that it sparked conversations.
I leave you with this thought: Idaho has an incredible ability to grow, and this potential needs to be applied to mental health treatment. This includes reducing the stigma and increasing the ability to talk about things, increasing accessibility to treatment and resources and learning more about what needs to be done to reverse this increase of suicide. What steps are you, my readers, taking to change this culture for yourself, your loved ones, your friends and your community? Further, what things do you need help with to change this culture from myself and other professionals in the field?
National Institute for Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/index.shtml
Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0607-suicide-prevention.html
Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/smha-expenditures-per-capita/?activeTab=graph¤tTimeframe=0&startTimeframe=9&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D
Mental Health America http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/ranking-states