Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Donate your vehicle and help support local, independent journalism today!

Why Are Suicide Rates Climbing? And How is N.H. Approaching The Problem?

CCO Public Domain

Several high-profile suicides have been the focus of a national conversation, and recent numbers show that the rate in New Hampshire is up nearly 50 percent over the past 20 years. The Exchange on Thursday, June 14, will examine what's causing this rise in suicide deaths, and how N.H. is approaching this difficult topic. 

Mental health professionals urge people suffering from suicidal thoughts to seek help by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24 hours a day at (800) 273-8255.


  • Todd Donovan -   Firefighter and paramedic for the Derry Fire Department and Data Specialist for the Division of Fire Standards and Training and Emergency Medical Services. He has survived several suicide attempts and experienced lifelong depression before receiving treatment as an adult that helped alleviate his illness. He shares his story with first responders and other groups to help spread awareness about treatment and to help prevent suicide. 

  • Ken Norton - Executive Director of  NAMI-NH.  He serves on the steering committee for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and on the N.H. Suicide Prevention Council. He also led devlopment of NAMI- NH's Connect Program,  a national best practice approach to training professionals and communities on suicide prevention and response. 
  • Jennifer Schirmer -  Disaster Behavioral Health Coordinator with N.H. Department of Health and Human Services. She is a licensed mental health counselor and oversees statewide efforts to help those affected by suicide. 


National statistics on suicide:

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Each year, 44,965 Americans die by suicide.
  • For every suicide, there are 25 attempts.
  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle age -- white men in particular. 
  • Men die by suicide 3.53 x more often than women.

Related Reading & Resources



The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends ways to prevent suicide and approach the topic with someone who is showing signs of suicidal thoughts. 

Visit the National Institute of Mental Health for risk factors, signs and symptoms, treatment and therapies, and more information on suicide and suicide prevention.  
The Connect Program provides support for those coping with suicide loss. 
Five takeaways on America's Increasing Suicide Rate.  

CDC says the rise in suicide is not just a mental health issue and that attention must be payed to circumstances that precede mental health conditions, such as financial or relationship problems.   

Suicide rates rise sharply in U.S., new report shows.  The per capita suicide rates in Vermont and New Hampshire place them in the top fifth in the country. The two states also experienced the second and third biggest increases, more than 48 percent, in the period studied by the CDC.

N.H. seeks solutions for rising suicide rate. 

Exeter hospital adopts Zero Suicide prevention model, which trains primary care providers and others who come into regular contact with patients in detecting risk for suicide.  

How should schools approach the subject of suicide with students? 

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.