Special Reports

BREAKING THE SILENCE: Rural areas have higher suicide rates

Oregon’s suicide rate has been higher than the national average for the past three decades. More than 800 people killed themselves last year in Oregon.

The problem affects everyone. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people, but 90 percent of Oregon’s suicides are by people older than 25 years old. Most suicides are men, but it crosses social, economic, and geographic boundaries.

The highest rates are shared by groups with deep historical and cultural differences—white men and Native Americans. One in every five suicides is a veteran.

These heartbreaking statistics are part of a longstanding and perplexing pattern of higher suicide rates in the West. For decades, the western half of the country, stretching from Montana to Texas and west to California and Alaska, reported persistently higher suicide rates.

Now they are . . .