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Bledsoe has highest per capita suicide rate in 2018

Bledsoe County Mayor Gregg Ridley and Pikeville Mayor Philip Cagle both signed proclamation last week declaring September Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Bledsoe County.

In a Bledsoe County Health Council meeting last week, it was reveled by Southeast Regional Director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN), Rachel Gearinger, MPH, that Bledsoe County actually had the highest per capita rate of Suicide in Tennessee for the most recent data year, 2018.

Bledsoe County’s rate per capita was 47.4 per 100,000 people, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health’s Division of Vital Records and Statistics. A total of seven people in Bledsoe County died by suicide in 2018.

The Southeast Tennessee suicide prevention awareness event will be held virtually on September 29th from 8:00-9:00 p.m. (EST). The event can be streamed live via the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network Facebook page.

This event will celebrate work done in the southeast Tennessee region over the past year, highlight stories and voices of suicide prevention in the region, and recognize the southeast regional suicide prevention award winner, Christy Sentell, an individual who has dedicated herself to suicide prevention in the southeast region.

Gearinger said it is important for everyone to learn the warning signs of someone who may be thinking of suicide, ask directly about suicide, listen without judgment, address any possible lethal means with that person, and connect that individual to resources such as TSPN.

Here are some signs you should look for, according to TSPN:

•People talking about wanting to die on social media

•People looking and seeking out supplies to commit suicide

•Expressing unbearable emotional pain

•Saying their goodbyes to close friends and family

•Giving away personal possessions

•Suddenly becoming calm or cheerful after a period of depression

TSPN offers free trainings to the community about the warning signs and risk factors for suicide, myths about suicide, and what resources are available. Those who would like to learn more can sign up at or can request a training at

If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis, please reach out to the statewide crisis line at 1-855-CRISIS-1.

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