BOSTON — Mental health advocates are calling for greater awareness as the number of suicide deaths in Massachusetts appears to be rising.
“The commonwealth of Massachusetts still has one of the lowest suicide rates in the country, and yet I think most people are startled that on average, about 500 people each year are lost to suicide,” said Roberta Hurtig, director of the suicide prevention group Samaritans. “That’s more than one a day.”
The latest data (PDF) shows 531 suicides in Massachusetts in 2009, the highest number since 1992. That number continued to rise through 2010.
Hurtig said the economy appears to be a factor in the rising numbers.
“No question, the last few years we’ve gotten more calls from people who, number one never thought they’d be calling us, but also from people who never thought they would be without the wherewithal to support their family,” Hurtig said.
The Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention is honoring a number of local individuals and organizations at the State House Monday who have worked to prevent suicide in the state.
Award recipients include: Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez; Maura Weir, of the Cape Code Youth Suicide Prevention; Robert Judge, of South Hadley Suicide Prevention Coalition; and Annemarie Matulis, founder of the Silver City Teen Center and Statewide Advocacy for Veterans’ Empowerment.