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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Suicide rates in Orange County are on the rise

The suicide rate in Orange County has dramatically increased during the 21st century. Between 2014 and 2018, approximately 330 suicides per year were recorded by the Orange County Health Agency (HCA), amounting to 1,648 suicides in the five year period.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in America. Since 1999, rates of suicides have increased in all ethnic backgrounds, races, and genders. In response, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention advised local governments to continue with the identification and support for people who are in danger.

The report summarizes Orange County’s ongoing effort towards outwardly speaking about suicide and bringing light to the topic. The county also provides helpful resources to those in the risk of self-harm and suicide.

The report also outlines suicide demographics and ways that people committed the tragedy. The county’s report found that the majority of suicide deaths were due to self-inflicted gunshot wounds, self-poisoning [typically with medications] or by hanging, strangulation, or suffocation.

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A graph shows the means of suicide death by age groups from 2014-2018 Photo credit: Consumer Directed Health Plan

The study showed those who were most affected by suicide were either white, male or middle-aged to older adults. White residents of Orange County averaged 224 suicides per year, with Hispanics being second at 52 per year. Asian and Pacific Islander residents of OC were at 6.6 deaths per 100,000. Those identified under “other” race/ethnicity were at 6.7 per 100,000. Black residents had a higher suicide rate than other non-white racial or ethnic groups, at 11.1 per 100,000 over the five years.

Coastal cities, including Seal Beach, Laguna Beach, and Dana Point, were found to have a higher rate of suicide than inland cities. The report stated that areas with the highest population of white and adults 55 years and older are among the higher suicide rates.

An example is the South Orange County city of Laguna Woods, which has the highest rate of suicide over the five years. The city has a 97% population that is 55 years or older and 77% population of Non-Hispanic Whites and averaged to have a rate of 37.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 a year.

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A graph shows the five year average suicide rate by city. Laguna Woods, which has the highest rate of suicide over the five years. Photo credit: Consumer Directed Health Plan

In OC, male suicides were the highest at 75% compared to females at 25%. Means of suicide differed greatly by gender as well. Men were reported to use firearms and suffocation, while women were more often to use poisoning and few by firearm discharge.

According to the OC HCA, it funds and contributes funding to a broad spectrum of behavioral health services. These services include prevention, early intervention, outpatient treatment, residential treatment, crisis and navigation services.

The services aim to stabilize, help and rehabilitate those who are struggling with untreated mental illness and substance use to ultimately prevent more crises and suicide.

Fullerton College also offers help to students with its psychological health support and resources at the Student Health Center. FC offers mental health counseling, psychological services, and referrals at no cost. Counseling sessions are 45-50 minutes in length with a licensed mental health professional.

With school, work and life, students can struggle and become exhausted, which can lead to mental health issues. Getting the right help can enable students to succeed both in college and in their overall health.

For more information on health services at Fullerton College go to their page here.

The full report on suicide deaths in Orange County is available here.

About the Contributor
Jose Vazquez
Jose Vazquez, Staff Photographer
Jose Vazquez is a returning staff photographer for The Hornet. Jose wants to tell people's stories and cover points of interest in our culture's conflicts, politics, history, and the obscure. His focus currently is on the emerging music and art scene in Southern California. Jose is currently studying at Fullerton College where he is working towards a bachelor’s degree in photography and journalism. He also volunteers at a nonprofit art house movie theatre in Santa Ana, the historic Frida Theatre. In his free time, he creates videos on his YouTube channel and plays drums in a garage gaze band called Black Star Meadow.