Suicide rates have been rising consistently across the country, but the Centers for Disease Control says North Carolina's rate of increase is slower than other states.
North Carolina's rate rose by 13 percent between 1999 and 2016, while the national average was 25 percent.
The CDC did not explain why the rate is rising. However, Duke University psychologist David Goldston said recent conversations about suicide have been helpful, despite the troubling trend.
“It is bringing into schools and other settings, I think, greater awareness, particularly the need for reducing stigma and increasing awareness of resources for individuals who are feeling suicidal,” Goldston said. “These trainings, in a nutshell, help people to better recognize when someone might be in distress, to ask the student about that, and to see if they can help them to get to the appropriate treatment that they might need.”
Goldston, who works with Duke’s Center for the Study of Suicide Prevention and Intervention, said the difference between the state and national rates could be explained several different ways because there is a myriad of risk factors.
“One of the mischaracterizations that happens when individuals are talking about suicidal folks is that they talk about people that are suicidal like they're one person, and there is no one story,” he said.
State lawmakers say they plan to keep funding North Carolina's suicide hotline. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.