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Oregon sees decrease in suicide rates in 2020, yet remains above the national average

Oregon had the nation's 13th highest suicide rate across all ages in 2020, down from 9th highest the year before.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Oregon's suicide rate dropped in 2020. While this is promising news Oregon's rate is still above the national average.

Oregon had the nation's 13th highest suicide rate across all ages in 2020, down from 9th highest in 2019. Suicide prevention groups say it's a small a victory and there's much more work to do — but it's a glimmer through the darkness.

"What we saw is people learning new ways to find strengths, new ways to find hope, and new ways to find help" said Jill Baker with the Oregon Health Authority.

Oregon is one of seven states to see lower suicide rates in 2020, and early data shows 2021 is on the same track for even lower rates.

"This is incredibly important because it means that Oregon will see a three-year decreasing trend in youth suicide, and it has to matter and it has to be celebrated," said Baker.

She thinks awareness and lower stigma around mental health made a difference.

"Mental health has been talked about in all places and spaces," said Baker, "so there is something protective about knowing that you can say 'I'm not ok.'"

While Oregon is headed in the right direction, the state's suicide rate is still above the national average. OHA works with other groups like "Matchstick Consulting" on the mission to prevent suicide in Oregon.

Matchstick Consulting works to implement Sources of Strength statewide. It's a suicide prevention program in schools where there are trained peer leaders to help other students. Experts say those students can relate to and reach their peers better than anyone else directing them to support resources.

The program has trained more than 600 youth across 35 Oregon schools in 15 counties.

"We know for suicide prevention programing to be effective among young people, young people have to be at the table," said Liz Thorne with Matchstick Consulting.

In the dark fight against mental health crisis and suicide, each new group on board offers a light. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please know that help is available:

  • Oregon launched the Safe + Strong Helpline and website at the beginning of the pandemic to provide to support for those struggling with the loss of loved ones and lifestyle changes. The Safe + Strong Helpline, 1-800-923- HELP (4357), is available 24/7. More help and resources are available in multiple languages on the Safe + Strong website.
  • Additional resources include:
    • 24/7 Suicide Prevention National Lifeline number: 1-800-273-8255
    • 24/7 Spanish Lifeline: 1-888-628-9454
    • 24/7 Crisis Text Line: Text “OREGON” to 741741
    • 24/7 Crisis Line for Veterans: 1-800-273-8255 and Press “1” or text 838255
    • Senior Loneliness Line: 503-200-1633 or org
    • YouthLine for teen-to-teen crisis help. A phone line and a texting support line are offered through Lines for Life. Trained teens respond from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, PDT. Adults are also available 24/7.
      • Call 1-877-968-8491
      • Text teen2teen to 839863

RELATED: Salem-Keizer students form group to prevent suicide among peers

RELATED: Oregon youth mental health crisis line gets $432K federal boost

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