According to the Centers for Disease Control, the national suicide rate has risen 24 percent since 1999, but Wyoming’s suicide rate has remained essentially unchanged in the same period.
State suicide prevention coordinator Terresa Humphries-Wadsworth chalked up the flat suicide rate here to increased efforts in education. She said they have been working hard over the past few years to train people to recognize the warning signs that someone may be considering suicide, and then how they can bring up the subject and connect a person with resources – and it seems to be working.
“We’ve done some follow up surveys a few months later after their training, and almost half of the people who have gone through the classes, about 46 percent, have used their skills in those few months and have reached out to save lives,” said Humphries-Wadsworth.
Economic downturns have been tied to higher rates of suicide, but Wyoming appears to have navigated that risk. Humphries-Wadsworth said prior to the downturn in the state’s energy industry, the Prevention Management Organization was already working intensively with energy companies.
“So they were well aware of the impact that it could have on their employees,” Humphries-Wadsworth said.
“I’m familiar with a couple of energy companies that worked very hard during that time when they had to let people go to connect them with resources to make sure they were okay, in a way that I think was unusual.”
Though the rate has remained flat, Wyoming still has the fourth highest suicide rate in the country, with about 21 deaths by suicide per 100 thousand people a year. Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in Wyoming.