After years of increases, Michigan sees drop in suicides

Suicide Awareness Month - and what the occupation with the highest suicide rate is doing about it.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers anonymous assistance and support without judgement. It can be reached 24/7 at 988.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (WILX) - After years of increases, the suicide rate in Michigan has started to come down.

The state is working to keep that trend going by emphasizing how to keep loved ones safe.

Related: September is National Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide prevention holds a special place in Deshon Leek’s Heart.

“32 years. We went to high school together,” said Leek.

Leek’s friend from childhood to adulthood did not get the mental health support he needed before it was too late.

“His father came home one day, found him at the top of the basement steps. He had passed away,” said Leek, “He passed away from an overdose.”

Preventing these tragedies is what brought Leek to Grand Ledge to talk with construction workers. His friend was in the construction industry, and so is Leek. He shared the story to help remove the stigma of needing and asking for help.

“He was a building trades member. He was married. He had a wife, three kids, the dog, the house, he had everything going on.”

Talking about mental health, knowing the signs of mental health issues and knowing where to look for help are the most important things you can do to prevent suicide.

Suicide prevention was not always a topic of conversation on construction sites, but Michigan’s 2022 Suicide Prevention Report shows it probably should have been.

Nationally, construction workers have a higher suicide rate than any other occupation. In Michigan, the rate is even higher than the national average in the industry.

Dr. Debra Pinals spoke at the event as well, and encouraged use of the new Suicide and Crisis Lifeline - 988. (Use this link to find additional mental health resources)

“We want anyone who feels that they are in crisis - whether it’s related to mental health or substance use or anything that they think is an emotional crisis as you define it and as your loved ones define it - to call that number and have someone to talk too,” Pinals said.

She said events like these are the start of much-needed conversations regarding mental health.

“What we are seeing is that through just a conversation,” Pinal said. “We can prevent suicides.”

After years of increases, the suicide rate in Michigan has started coming back down.

Michigan’s 2022 Suicide Prevention Report shows suicide has gone up 9% since 2010, and up by 25% since the year 2000.

From 2019 to 2020, the most recent year data is available, suicides dropped slightly in Michigan.

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