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Wilton Suicide Rates on the Rise

WILTON, Conn. – No matter where the blame goes – the bad economy, deep depression or staggering social pressures – suicides in Fairfield County, including Wilton, are at a 20-year high, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for Connecticut.

About 371 suicides were reported in Connecticut in 2011 – a rate of more than one per day. It was the most cases reported since 1991, when the office recorded 362 suicides in the state.

“It’s a very high-pressure area,” said Wilton psychologist Lisa Fraidin. “I see a lot of people who have high degrees of distress. And sometimes they reach a point where they just don’t know what to do.”

Much of the reason for distress for adults, Fraidin said, is due to financial concerns because of the loss of a job or a pay cut. For the teenagers, it is slightly different.

“I do think that for sure, for the high school students I think they know its par for the course because everyone is stressed out,” Fraidin said. The amount of pressure the students are going through is generally similar so, she said, they may be able to handle the high performance atmosphere better since their peers are going through the same thing.

Fairfield County saw the third most suicides last year, with 64 out of a population of about 918,714, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. New Haven County had the most, with 99 suicides reported out of about 862,989 people, followed by Hartford County with 87 suicides out of 894,478. 

Nationwide, however, Connecticut was ranked 47th out of all states in 2009, at a rate of nine per 100,000. Though Connecticut may be low in completed suicides, it had the second-highest rate of reported suicide attempts in the nation, according to a report released in October by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 1 percent of Connecticut residents surveyed said they had attempted suicide, compared with the national average of 0.5 percent. The highest rate – 1.5 percent – was in Rhode Island.

Of those attempts in Connecticut during 2008 and 2009, 1.3 percent were female and 0.6 percent were male. In addition, 3 percent were Hispanic; 0.3 percent black and 0.8 percent white. 

“When pressures pile up, and if a mental illness is either not detected or treated, the results can be devastating, including one of the most tragic and heartbreaking situations –  someone taking their own life,” said Colleen Fawcett, Wilton Youth Services coordinator.

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