Tennessee suicide rates are up a sobering 24 percent

Jun 11, 2018

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Suicide rates are climbing here in Tennessee and across the nation.

The death last week of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain brought the issue back into focus.  On Friday the Centers for Disease Control added to the alarm when it released new data showing significant increases in U.S. suicide deaths.

The CDC says those deaths increased about 24 percent in Tennessee between 1999 and 2016. Nationwide the increase was even larger, jumping by nearly 30 percent.

Joanne Perley with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network says common suicide warning signs can include dramatic mood and behavior changes, giving away prized possessions, a history of suicide attempts, and of course, talking about dying.

But whether or not signs were present, and regardless whether they were missed, Perley rushes to say that those left behind can’t blame themselves.

“Realize that it is not your fault. It is ultimately, unfortunately, the decision of that individual to take their own life and we’re still here after that.

Goodletsville resident Teresa Kimbro Culbreath (CUL-bruth) had to deal with that guilt. She’s lost a brother and her husband to suicide and wonders what more she could have done.

Culbreath says family and friends were generally helpful, offering condolences, prayers and best wishes. What she did not appreciate was being told her loved ones had acted selfishly in taking their own lives.

“And that was really hard to take because they were not selfish people at all. They would give anyone the shirt off their back.

Joanne Perley encourages  to keep the suicide crisis hotline number in their cell phones. That number is 800-273-TALK, or you can text TN to 741741. 

Suicide prevention resources: