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Kent County suicide rates are 'alarmingly high' warn health officials

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Suicide rates are rising at an alarming level, with little to suggest that it will slow down. That is according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So just how bad is it? Well, to put it in perspective, the number of suicides in the United States last year more than doubled the number of murders, making suicide the 10th-leading cause of death. For teens it’s even more shocking: suicide is the second-leading cause of death.

On Friday health professionals gathered at Grand Valley State University for the West Michigan Health Forum to discuss what some are now calling a “public health crisis.”

Kristin Mecklenburg is the Director of Clinical Services at Forest View Hospital. She says, suicide is especially on the rise locally.

“The rate is higher than it is across the nation, but it is difficult to know for sure why,” Mecklenburg said. “It feels like kids are lonelier now than they ever used to be despite social media.”

While 2018’s final numbers haven’t yet been released, the Kent County Medical Examiner's Office told me that the number of suicides will have risen for the fourth year in a row.

So the question remains, what can be done to prevent suicide moving forward?

“The most important thing to do is talk about it,” Mecklenburg said. “The more we talk about it, the more we can combat the stigma and prevent the suicide from happening.”

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