Teen suicide in Wyoming has jumped 40 percent in past 3 years
The suicide rate among older teenagers in Wyoming has increased by 40 percent over the past three years.
October 24, 2019
The suicide rate among older teenagers in Wyoming has increased by 40 percent over the past three years, according to a sweeping health report released last month that placed the Equality State in the lower half of states for women and children’s health.
Among adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19, the suicide rate jumped from 22.2 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2016 to 31.1 this year. It’s the second-worst rate in America, behind Alaska. While teen suicide has been on the rise nationally, Wyoming’s rate is triple the national average.
“It’s horrifying anywhere you see it,” said Dr. Janice Huckaby, “and certainly a 40 percent jump is significant.”
Huckaby is the chief medical officer for maternal and child health strategy for Optum, which is under the umbrella of UnitedHealth. The UnitedHealth Foundation released the report — “America’s Health Rankings” — that placed Wyoming as the 33rd best state in the nation for women and children’s health. The report has a wealth of data that has some positives but overall shows that the Equality State is lagging behind in key areas.
The teen suicide rate is the most alarming, and the report did not examine causes. The national rate has indeed ticked upward — a separate national study found that suicide was the second-leading cause of death in 2017 for those between the ages of 15 and 24. According to data from the state Department of Health, the suicide rate in Wyoming is highest among those between the ages of 35 and 44, with nearly 38 deaths per 100,000 people.
The report also found that maternal mortality in Wyoming — 34.8 deaths per 100,000 residents — is the 10th highest in the nation. Only 63 percent of women here have a dedicated health provider, and only 76 percent of women received a cervical cancer screening. Both percentages were among the lowest four in America.
Only 30 percent of women received a flu vaccine, one of the lowest rates in the nation. Fewer than 34 percent received an HPV vaccine, the worst rate of the 50 states. Men here fared little better, with a 28.4 percent rate coming in at third-worst.
Tobacco use among youth dropped to 6.6 percent of children between 12 and 17. Meanwhile, 5.4 percent of Wyoming’s adolescent residents have substance use issues.