The number of suicides in San Diego County declined slightly in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council.
The total number of suicides dropped from 2019's 429 to 419, while the rate of suicides per 100,000 people also dipped from 12.8 to 12.5.
This year's report reflects strides made by health care organizations to improve the quality and accessibility of mental health services across San Diego County, the report says. Suicide prevention efforts are bolstered in part by "health care providers improving treatments, conducting patient safety assessments and providing greater access to treatment," the report said.
"While supporting someone through a crisis is a key role of the access and a crisis line, I'd like to emphasize that you do not have to wait for a crisis to reach out," County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Nora Vargas said. "We need to continue to promote this resource until everyone in our community knows that trained professionals are standing by 24/7 to be there to listen, to connect them or a loved one who may need help as well."
The county's access and crisis line can be reached at 888-724-7240, with more than 150 languages available. It is free and confidential.
COVID-19 presented a challenge to behavioral health treatments, but there were opportunities for innovation through the use of telehealth and other technologies, the report claims.
"The inclusion of telehealth services allowed greater access to services," the report states. "There continue to be numerous opportunities in the realm of health care coordination and capacity to strengthen the transition between providers and level of care given. It begins by ensuring that there is a common language in assessing and treating suicide risk. The use of a standardized risk assessment tool is one way in which this is accomplished."
The number of suicides has declined since 2018 when 465 San Diego County residents committed suicide -- a rate of 13.9 per 100,000.
Additionally, the "student self-report" section of the report -- which measures the percentage of students in 9th and 11th grades in the county who reported they had seriously considered suicide -- declined to 14.5% from 2018's 15.5%.