September is National Suicide Prevention Month. (Courtesy of National Alliance to End Homelessness)
Courtesy of National Alliance to End Homelessness

More than 90 percent of people who died by suicide showed symptoms of mental health conditions, according to a new report.

The report by QuoteWizard released in September, which is Suicide Prevention Month, noted that 59 percent of U.S. adults with a mental health condition did not receive care over the past year.

The report found that Maryland ranks 38th for the prevalence of mental illness and has the 14th-best access to mental health care in the country, ranking it with a composite score of second-best overall for its lower mental illness rate and higher access to care.

Also among the key findings:

• States with higher access to mental health care tend to have a lower prevalence of mental health illness (North Dakota, Maryland and New Jersey, among others).
• Only 41 percent of adults with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year.
• The low rate of access leaves over 24 million people with mental health conditions untreated.
• 12.2 percent (over 5.3 million) of adults with mental illness remain uninsured, which can be a roadblock for those looking for care.
• Over 9.8 million adults seriously thought about suicide — an increase of 200,000 people from the previous year.

“There are many programs and campaigns that utilize social media as a tool to reach more people in an effort to help those in need to seek help,” said QuoteWizard analyst Adam Johnson.

“Social media is also being used in ways to destigmatize mental illness and bring awareness to Suicide Prevention Month. In addition to the traditional call-in prevention hotline, they have set up texting options as well,” Johnson said.

With the stigma that’s often attached to mental illness prevalent in minority communities, Johnson said individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups still are less likely to receive mental health care.

“For example, in 2015, among adults with any mental illness, 48 percent of whites received mental health services, compared with 31 percent of blacks and Hispanics, and 22 percent of Asians,” Johnson said, citing mental health statistics.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in 2018 noted that suicide rates in America increased nearly 30 percent between 1999 and 2016. During that period, suicide rates increased significantly, rising in every state except Nevada.

According to the CDC, the suicide rate increased significantly in 44 states and rose by more than 30 percent in 25 states.

In Virginia, the suicide rate increased by 17.4 percent between 1999 and 2016, while in the District of Columbia the suicide rate went up 16.1 percent during the same time period.
While the focus of the QuoteWizard study was on mental health care access across the nation, some states are better than others when it comes to the number of care facilities and programs for its residents, Johnson said.

“What we learned is overall most states are lacking,” he said.

One staggering statistic researchers found is that one in five adults experiences a mental illness in a given year. With so many Americans affected by mental illness, lack of access to health care can often be a more substantial source of the problem.

“The consequences for the lack of treatment have economic impacts, but more seriously, it can cause harm to individuals with mental illness,” Johnson said.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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