For Immediate Release: September 13, 2023
Ben Truman │ Vermont Department of Health
802-316-2117 │ AHS.VDHMedia@vermont.gov
New ‘Suicide Data Linkage’ Report Recommends Improved Supports for People at Risk
BURLINGTON, VT – The Vermont Department of Health has released the state’s first Suicide Data Linkage Report, an in-depth look at how people who died by suicide interacted with state agencies and other organizations during their life, and where improvements to the state’s prevention efforts can be made.
“Suicide is a heartbreaking public health concern that has touched too many families here in Vermont,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “This new report will help us gain insights into the lives of people who have died by suicide, and where there are opportunities to more effectively intervene at every point of contact.”
The Suicide Data Linkage Report examines data related to the 246 Vermont residents who died by suicide in 2020 and 2021. The report found that 45% of people who died by suicide experienced a crisis within two weeks of their death. “People can experience a crisis at any time,” said Dr. Levine. “It is critical for agencies and staff who interact with people who may be struggling are trained and prepared, to recognize the warning signs, and know how to connect them to the help and supports they need.”
These connections are especially relevant now, as many Vermonters are still recovering from the July flooding that resulted in the loss of housing, belongings and businesses. Even once a crisis ends, the mental and emotional challenges can continue for a long time.
In developing the report, the Health Department partnered with multiple state agencies, as well as the Vermont Judiciary, Green Mountain Care Board, Area Agencies on Aging and the Institute of Community Alliances, to coordinate and analyze each organization's data.
This review found that a majority of those who died (65%) had connected with a health care provider or service within a year of their death. More than half had a primary care visit within a year of death, and a third had a primary care visit related to mental health. The data analysis also identified certain other populations whose current or recent experiences and crisis leave them at greater risk of suicide. These include veterans, who have a suicide rate three times higher than the general population, and people recently released from a correctional institution, who are six times more likely to die by suicide.
Recommendations from the Suicide Data Linkage report include improving systemic and institutional focus on suicide prevention, and greater access to wrap-around services and follow up care:
- Expand suicide prevention programming for high-risk populations.
- Expand suicide prevention training and support services for first responders and others — including law enforcement, corrections officers, dispatchers and crisis/outreach teams.
- Provide workplace training.
- Improve data collection and access to family support services following a suicide death.
- Increase implementation of the Zero Suicide framework across all types of healthcare settings.
- Coordinate state prevention efforts and messaging.
Read the full Suicide Data Linkage report at HealthVermont.gov/injury-data.
- If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call or text 988 for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to be connected with a trained counselor.
- Get help, give help, and join prevention efforts, visit FacingSuicideVT.com.
- Learn more about preventing suicide: HealthVermont.gov/Suicide