The suicide rate in Montgomery County is below the national average, but leaders warn suicide awareness is also low and is something on which they would like to improve.
Dr. Raymond Crowell is the head of the county's behavioral health and crisis services. He says suicide prevention efforts in the county are working, at least when compared to the national average.
"The average suicide rate is somewhere around 11 per 100,000. Our rate is down around 7 per 100,000. So we're not doing too badly," says Crowell. "I think it's still important to note though that the suicide rate for Montgomery County is still higher than either the homicide rate or the rate or pedestrian fatalities."
Pedestrian safety has been the focus of many public awareness campaigns in the county, but the same can't be said for suicide prevention efforts. Dr. Crowell wants that to change. One area of particular concern is the rising number of suicides among the elderly, which Crowell attributes to this statistic.
"Usually in younger populations, only 1 in 100 suicide attempts are successful," says Crowell. "In the elderly population, it's 1 in 4."
Crowell says awareness needs to rise in two groups: "We need the families of the elderly to be more aware in changes in their emotional state at home and how they're getting around. We also need our primary care physicians to pay more attention to the mood and changes in the mood of our elderly."
A racial breakdown of the county's suicide rate shows that whites are almost two times more likely to commit suicide than other races.
If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, you are encouraged to contact the Montgomery County Crisis Center at 240-777-4000 or the 24-hour Montgomery County Suicide Hotline at 301-738-2255.