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Peoria County Suicide Deaths Down in 2020

FILE - In this Monday, June 1, 2020 file photo, a woman looks through a window at a near-empty terminal at an airport in Atlanta. Anxiety and depression are rising among Americans compared with before the pandemic, research suggests. Half of those surveyed in a study released on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, reported at least some signs of depression. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel
Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said while the drop in suicide deaths is encouraging, suicide attempts were up last year.

Deaths by suicide in Peoria County declined last year.

Twenty Peoria County residents took their own lives last year, according to Peoria County Coroner records. That’s one less than in 2019 and two fewer than in 2018.

Coroner Jamie Harwood said while the drop in suicide deaths is encouraging, suicide attempts were up last year.

“The raw data doesn’t really support the people that were attempting, the people who were going through social isolation, depression, maybe anxiety relating to all that aren’t accounted for in this low data number with people who actually followed through with the attempt and to the completion of suicide,” Harwood said.

Harwood said October was the worst month for Peoria County suicides last year, followed by March. He added the numbers indicate significant location disparities with the bulk occurring in the 61603, 61604 and 61605 zip codes.

“And in that we can obviously ascertain that we have racial disparities, educational disparities, health care disparities and it goes beyond that,” said Harwood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists suicide as the 10th leading cause of death nationwide, although preliminary 2020 data reveal a near 6% drop in suicides nationwide.

Harwood said more education care can make a difference. His office is working with the Hult Center for Healthy Living’s suicide prevention program to address disparities and improve overall awareness.

If you, a relative or friend need assistance, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK.

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Kristin McHugh is an experienced radio journalist and nonprofit manager. Most recently, she served as executive director of the Peoria Area World Affairs Council.