What Do We Know About Suicides in Rensselaer County?

Next week I am headed to the  3rd Annual New York Statewide Suicide Prevention Conference. Each year it grows and it’s great to see New York State to bring together National, State, and local initiatives together to share best practices.

One of the strategies in New York State Suicide Prevention Plan is to increase and ensure we have the most accurate data on suicide loss. This will assist state, county, and local municipalities develop strategies to address these problems.  Also to build our funding, New York State wants coalitions to take a data-driven approach.  To this end New York State has opened health data by population and county to help us better understand hat we need to build healthier communities.

As I began to look at the data I thought educating the community about how we have experienced suicide. While looking at this open data, it resonated to look at other “deaths of despair” and how it effects our county.

The Data

A little caution about this data. This is official data reported to the New York State Department of Health Bureau Vital statics. It is often limited by the accuracy of those who report deaths to both coroners, the local health department, and deaths that my take place in another state/jurisdiction. Here is what is publicly available data about Suicide Deaths in our county.  Although they are taking steps to improve data accuracy and collection, this is just an overview of what we are experiencing here in Rensselaer County…

Suicide Data:


Year Suicide Deaths in Ren. Co Per 100,00 Residents in Ren. Co Suicide Deaths Statewide Statewide per 100,000
2007 14 9.0 1,368 7.1
2008 10 6.4 1,391 7.1
2009 19 10.3 1,400 7.2
2010 12 7.5 1,513 7.8
2011 18 11.3 1,625 7.3
2012 21 13.1 1,637 8.5
2013 10 6.3 1,642 8.3
2014 21 14.1 1,657 8.3
2015 19* 1,639*


One can see the first problem I alluded to earlier. The last complete data set publicly available is from 2015. One can project the overall statewide trend is increasing with a slight decrease in 2015.  Telegraphing trends from the Rensselaer County Data is challenging but our suicide deaths and the rate per 100,000 people is not decreasing. This continues to be challenge for our task force.  Looking at statewide data one can see this a challenge for the entire state.


What Do We Do?

At first glance the data on suicides in our county reveal no pattern. Again we are limited by timely and accurate data.  I am excited to be representing our task force at the 3rd Annual Suicide Prevention Center of New York Conference to get an update and the state of data collection. Although it comes with it’s challenges the intentional examination of improved data collection can better inform our practices. The trend is sadly in the upward direction in the State and locally. We are committed to working locally to try to make a difference. I hope that you will consider joining our Task Force….


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