ARKANSAS (KFTA) – “It’ll be 11 years in February that I lost my son Tyler,” Marcey Ball said. “He was in 9th grade at Central JR. High in Springdale.”
547 Arkansans died by suicide in 2018 – making it the leading cause of violent death that year.
“That first year is a fog,” Ball said. Ball says Tyler was on the school’s cross country team, played for the band and loved volunteering.
“He and his sister were best friends – so she lost her brother and her best friend,” Ball said.
Tyler died by suicide at 14-years-old.
From 2007 to 2017 the rate of Americans ages 10 to 24 who took their lives rose by 56%– according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“When I lost my son 11 years ago there were no support groups – there was nothing,” Ball said.
Ball’s daughter became involved with suicide awareness in high school – inspiring Ball to join the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “It’s getting better but we still got to keep talking, breaking the stigma,” Ball said.
Springdale Fire Capt. Matt Bagley is going into his 15th year serving in the line of duty. He’s also lost friends to suicide.
“There were a lot of big things and over time I started crumbling like I said I didn’t act out on it but I don’t think that makes it any less serious,” Bagley said.
Bagley – a man in his early 40’s – falls into the second-highest rate of suicide, according to the most recent statistics provided by America’s Health Rankings. And as a firefighter – the risk of completing suicide increases.
“I’m actively getting help now not because I crossed the line but because I got way too close to the line it concerned me – something is not right here,” Bagley said.
Here’s a break down of the study –
Out of the seven age groups – the top three highest rates of completing suicide are:
– 25 to 34
– 35 to 44
– 75 to 84
Of those, The number of men completing suicide was three times higher than women.
Dr. Christopher DeBernard is the Chief Medical Officer at Ozark Guidance.
“Arkansas is limited on the number of psychiatrists per 100 thousand people in Arkansas,” Dr. DeBernard said. “A lot of them are in concentrated areas like here in Northwest Arkansas, Jonesboro, in Little Rock but that leaves a big portion of our state undeserved.”
Dr. DeBernard says there are different factors that could contribute to the study’s findings – like mental health conditions. “The onset of major mental illness is most notable in men between the ages of 18 and 25 and it’s notable in women between the ages of 22 and 28,” Dr. DeBernard said.
And how Arkansas ranks among the top states for over-prescribing opioids and psychoactive drugs. “Arkansas doctors are doing our patients and our citizens no favors in how liberal we prescribe some medications, these medications can be implicated in suicides,” Dr. DeBernard.
While things like stressful life events, bullying and trauma may increase the chance of a person taking their own life – there is no single cause for suicide.
” It don’t matter what walk of life you come from – the color of your skin, your age, your sexual orientation it does not matter – everyone is affected by it,” Ball said.
“Whether you’re a first responder or you’re working an office job – it doesn’t matter what you’re doing this affects all of us,” Bagley said.
The number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255