Health Matters

Suicide is Leading Cause of Violent Death in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – There were 621 people who died by suicide in Arkansas in 2017, making it the leading cause of violent death in Arkansas in that year. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and partners want Arkansans to know there is help and hope.

ADH and the Attorney General’s office came together this morning at the onset of Suicide Prevention Awareness Week to discuss the state’s efforts to reduce the number of suicide-related deaths at an event at the State Capitol.

Dr. Nathaniel Smith, ADH Director and State Health Officer, spoke in detail about the public health impact of suicide, including the steps the ADH is taking to combat the high rate of suicides in the state. These steps include training community leaders and educators about how to help prevent suicides and running campaigns like “Let’s Talk About It,” which promotes the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

An average of over 1,000 Arkansans call the lifeline each month. The Arkansas Lifeline Call Center, which answers calls to the national line made in Arkansas, is housed by ADH. The call center was mandated by Act 811 of 2017 and opened in December 2017.

“Where there’s help, there’s hope,” said Dr. Smith. “The Arkansas Department of Health is committed to providing help to Arkansans in the midst of crisis when they need it the most through training community leaders, education, and the Arkansas Lifeline Call Center.”

In 2016, 67 youth between the ages of 10-24 died by suicide. An important component for the suicide prevention program is improving continuity of care and follow-up for youth identified at risk. The suicide prevention program is implementing integrated networks of care for community populations to ensure that follow-up care and evidence-based treatments are effectively in place.

“On average fifty Arkansans per month lose their battles with mental illness or depression and too often, family and friends are not aware of or do not understand the sense of hopelessness of their loved one,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Arkansas is one big small town, and we must work together to give hope to those in need and bring awareness across the state in order to save the lives of our neighbors and friends.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Veterans can access the Veteran Crisis Line by calling the national line and pressing 1. Anyone can also text the crisis line by sending TALK to 741741, or chat online at

The ADH Injury and Violence Prevention Section works to prevent suicides through education, resources, and awareness. To learn more about the trainings and resources that are available for your group, business, or school, visit

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