Massachusetts Suicide Rates Have Risen Steadily Since 2003
Despite a slight dip from 2012, the number of Massachusetts residents who committed suicide in 2013 was higher than almost every year since at least 2003, according to the Department of Public Health.
In 2013, the most recent year with comprehensive data, 585 Commonwealth residents committed suicide—more than car accident and homicide mortalities combined. That figure equates to a rate of 8.7 suicides per 100,000 people, a number that has increased by about 3.6 percent each year since 2003. Despite those startling numbers, however, Massachusetts still has one of the lowest suicide rates of any state in the country.
In keeping with national trends, middle-aged white men accounted for most of those deaths: 76 percent of suicide victims were men, and 57 percent were people aged 35 to 64. To help combat the problem, the state has launched what it calls a “tongue-in-cheek” online resource center for men, called MassMen.org, that offers “Man Therapy”—complete with a fictional therapist, Dr. Rich Mahogany—for individuals struggling with mental health issues.
Massachusetts has also had a general suicide prevention program for more than 10 years. The director of the program, Alan Holmlund, said in a statement that the Commonwealth’s comparatively low suicide rate can be partially attributed to the relative ease of access to emergency medical and mental health care, as well as low household gun ownership rates.