988: Emergency Number for Suicide Intervention

Commissioner Dianne Edmondson

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S., increasing an estimated 30 percent from 2000 to 2018.

A suicide death occurs every 11 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2020 an estimated 45,979 lives nationally were lost to suicide.

However, statistics show the number of people who consider suicide is much higher, with an estimated 12.2 million adults seriously thinking about it. About 3.2 million people have planned a suicide attempt, and another 1.2 million people have attempted suicide.

As the ninth leading cause of death overall and the second leading cause of death among ages 10 to 14 and 25 to 34, suicide is a serious public health concern. Statistics show the number of suicides in Denton County also continues to escalate.

The facts are grim. Mental health issues are pushing people to a breaking point of hopelessness where suicide has become seemingly the only viable option for some in our communities.

Pam Gutierrez, executive director of Denton County’s Mental Health Mental Retardation (MHMR) Board, shared several somber statistics about suicide in our county. In 2020 a total of 81 suicides were reported. In 2021 there were a total of 98 suicides. Currently, as of August 2022, there have been 61 suicides, with still one-third of the year to go.

In July 2022, 15 individuals ranging in ages from 10 to 85+ took their own lives. In August 2022, 10 individuals ranging in ages 15 to 74 took their own lives, including nine men and one woman. These tragedies were reported across the entire county.

These numbers are not found in one certain demographic, but spread across all ages. This represents a hopelessness that can reach anyone at any age. Each individual is on a different journey in life, but some face similar factors and situations that affect them to the point of considering suicide.

Suicide can be prevented, and Denton County MHMR’s team is proof of this fact. They stand ready 24/7 to be available for anyone in need. The recent addition of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has been an aid in their work of prevention.

Established in January 2005, the hotline includes a network of more than 200 crisis centers across the U.S. that provide 24/7 help to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Simply dialing 9-8-8, anyone can reach out for help at any time.

Our Denton County MHMR also developed a L.O.S.S. (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors) Team. LOSS is a program created as a service of Denton County MHMR and the Denton County Medical Examiner’s office, to prevent additional suicides in families that have already experienced one. Studies have shown the risk of suicide is higher in family members or friends who have recently lost a loved one to suicide.

The LOSS teams go to the scenes of suicides to support families during their time of loss and confusion. The team’s support helps families and friends walk through the tragedy to get to a place of healing.

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, please reach out and call 988.

That one call could save a life—yours or someone close to you.

Contact Commissioner Dianne Edmondson by email at [email protected] or phone her at 972-434-3960. You can also stop by her office in the Southwest Courthouse, 6200 Canyon Falls Drive, Suite 900, in Flower Mound.