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Unexpected deaths. Restrictions on interaction. Unemployment and economic disruption. The worry was the pandemic might be a recipe for an increase in suicide.

Gov. Kate Brown said almost one year ago to the day her personal knowledge of families with 11- and 12-year-olds attempting suicide was a reason she wanted to get children back in in-person education.

But assumptions or anecdotes about suicide told by politicians can be misleading. The Oregon Health Authority’s latest report continues to show suicide deaths have been fairly consistent with previous years and did not spike in the pandemic.

Some of the latest findings include:

Suicide deaths in 2021 are similar to corresponding months in 2020.

Suicide-related visits in 2021 to emergency departments and urgent care centers are similar to the corresponding months of 2019 and 2020.

Suicide-related visits in 2021 to emergency departments and urgent care centers for youths ages 18 and under are similar to the corresponding months of 2019.

We are by no means arguing such data is good. It would, of course, be much better if there was a decline. It’s just that it’s a mistake to assume the pandemic has driven it up.

Learning coping skills, getting treatment and support do work for most people who are contemplating suicide. The first step can be a call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. If you need help or know someone who does, call. Don’t wait.

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