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UC Suicide Rates Steady Compared To 2019 But Remain One Of Highest In State

2020 suicide rates across the Upper Cumberland region mirror those reported statewide: steady.

Hotline calls rose dramatically because of COVID last year. Michael Anderson directs the Upper Cumberland’s Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network office. He said that there was concern about a potential rise in the number. He said the numbers remained steady compared to 2019.

“Everyone was holding their breath looking at 2020’s numbers and we did not see an increase,” Anderson said. “A positive note to that however we did see an increase in calls coming into the crisis line.”

Anderson said that many misconstrued an increase in calls as an increase in suicide rates when it was really people seeking help with feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. He said that the 800 percent increase in calls nationally was actually indicative of an increase in awareness and people seeking help.

Anderson said that the Upper Cumberland region remains one of the highest rates of suicide in the state. He said that while it’s not a new status, it has been a source of concern since he came into his position.

“I’m a native to the upper Cumberland I grew up in the greater Cookeville area I’ve lived here my whole life and I had never heard that my whole life,” Anderson said. “One of the missions of the suicide prevention network is to try and raise awareness about that because one of the first steps in prevention is making sure everyone is aware of what’s going on, how it affects us, that it is a topic of public health and public safety and making everyone aware of the resources and the warning signs.”

Anderson said that the pandemic has led the organization to reach out in different ways. He said that COVID has forced them to be more flexible when it comes to dealing with outreach that TSPN does and the services they provide.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, is available 24/7. It is free and confidential.

Anderson said you can also text TN to 741741 for another service that is free and available 24/7.

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