MORENCI – Suicide rates have grown by leaps and bounds across the globe, and Greenlee County is no exception.

Organizers will be busy preparing for the third annual Coty Denogean Suicide Memorial Awareness Walk in November.

Those gathered will remember family, friends and loved ones as they give testimony on the pain and loss felt by a community.

They will not be alone. A study produced by the Journal of the Amercian Medical Association examined suicides at the county level, and the results bode poorly for rural America.

“Our findings confirmed recent reports of increasing suicide rates in the United States and documented a gradient of increasing suicide risk moving from urban to rural settings. The highest observed suicide rates were noted in rural counties, especially those with high deprivation, and suicide rates increased most in rural counties in the western United States, regions of Appalachia and the Ozarks,” the report stated.

Greenlee County is not immune to that rise, either. In a graph produced from the data, the Journal of the American Medical Association illustrated that Greenlee County has moved from being 1.76 to two times above the expected suicide rate to being as much as 2.01 to 4.22 times higher than the expected rate in roughly a decade.

“Study findings suggest that increasing social connectedness, civic opportunities, health insurance coverage and limiting access to lethal means within communities have the potential to reduce suicide rates across the rural-urban continuum. Suicide rates in rural counties are especially susceptible to deprivation, suggesting that rural counties present special challenges and deserve targeted suicide prevention efforts,” the Journal concluded.

One effort that’s been floated recently was a proposal last month by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to change the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to a three-digit number: 988. The hotline sees abundant use in Arizona as statistics showed a 93-percent answer rate for the number in the state, roughly the fourth highest.

September is suicide prevention month, and this week marks the official Suicide Prevention Week. Those having suicidal thoughts can reach the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Find the full report from the Journal of the American Medical Association online at https://jamanetwork.com.

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