Coos County has 4th highest suicide rate in Oregon

COOS COUNTY, Ore. -- The suicide rate in Coos County is the fourth highest in Oregon according to a state report.

The Coos County Health Department has worked with both health care providers and non-health care providers to develop a community health improvement plan.

One section of the plan focuses on how to decrease the high suicide rates. David Geels, the director of the mental health department, says it is not a new problem. "The rates are high, the rates have been high historically, this is not a new problem," he said. "It's been going on for quite some time."

He says Oregon as a whole has a problem. "On average our rate is about 70% higher than the state average, and the state average is actually about 35% higher than the national average."

The county hopes to lower the suicide rate by providing more mental health care to residents. "One is to try and increase providers, the number of providers to provide support in the community, and the other effort is to look at our current medical health system in the county and see where we can be more efficient," said county health administrator Nikki Zogg.

Zogg says early detection is a key. "We are much better off if we can help people in a preventative way rather than delivering care after it's too late."

Mental health is just one aspect of a much bigger plan for county health improvements, which the health department is currently finalizing.