Suicides in San Diego County in 2011 most in 23 years

City News Service

Nearly 400 people committed suicide in San Diego County last year, the highest number in 23 years, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported today.

“Suicide can be prevented,” said HHSA Director Nick Macchione. “We all should learn the warning signs of suicide and where to get help so we can be ready to provide assistance if needed.”

While the number of suicides in 2011 was high -- 392 -- agency officials pointed out that the rate of a dozen per 1,000 people hasn’t changed in a few years, and is lower than the 14 per 1,000 recorded in the mid-1990s, because of population growth.

According to the HHSA, most suicides result from clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder, or from substance abuse.

According to the HHSA, risk factors include:

-- talking of hurting or killing oneself;

-- hopelessness or helplessness;

-- divorce, separation or family stress;

-- real or imaginary health problems;

-- loss of job or home;

-- increased alcohol or drug use;

-- isolation from family and friends; and

-- daring or risk-taking behavior.

Of the people who committed suicide in 2011, 290 were white, 45 Hispanic, 23 Asian and 22 black, with 12 from other ethnic groups. Men outnumbered women three to one.