Rural Suicide: One California County’s Fight To Save Lives

A rural pocket of Northern California is seeing some of the highest rates of suicide in the state. We’re exploring the mental health crisis in Amador County, and what’s being done to solve it.

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CapRadio health care reporter Sammy Caiola is spending six months exploring the high rate of suicide in Amador County and how residents are trying to tackle it.

Like neighboring Calaveras and Mariposa counties — and other rural places throughout Northern California — residents here are at greater risk for suicide than their urban peers. Her project will delve into why people take their own lives, and what solutions might help.

Through personal stories from people directly affected and conversations with those working on prevention, she discovers why those experiencing depression, anxiety, addiction, isolation and other challenges associated with rural living often suffer in silence.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Additional resources for those in Amador County and beyond, including programs for youth, seniors, veterans and Native Americans, can be found here.

This project is funded by a USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism grant.

Vanessa S. Nelson / Capital Public Radio

Energy, Resolve After CapRadio’s Gathering On Rural Suicide

September 24, 2018

The event marked the close of reporter Sammy’s Caiola's series on suicide prevention, but many attendees expressed hope that it was the beginning of a broader commitment — not just to reducing the suicide rate, but bringing it to zero.

Vanessa S. Nelson / Capital Public Radio

Health Care

How Suicide Trainings, Community Connections Could Patch Holes In Amador’s Mental Health Safety Net

September 13, 2018 | Sammy Caiola

Amador County residents and social service providers say there’s a serious lack of services and awareness around mental illness in the community. They’re planning to use a special cache of leftover state funding to solve the problem.

Vanessa S. Nelson / Capital Public Radio

Chronic Loneliness Is A Major Cause Of Suicide For Seniors, Especially in Rural California

September 12, 2018 | Sammy Caiola

It’s a health issue that presents a threat of early death equal to obesity. One-third of all people who took their lives in Amador County between 2010 and 2017 were over age 60.

Vanessa S. Nelson / Capital Public Radio

Dying To Get Out: Stigma, ‘Copycat Effect’ Drive Youth Suicide In Rural Amador County

September 11, 2018 | Sammy Caiola

Many young people say they don’t have a healthy way to express feelings of being trapped and misunderstood. And teens who live in remote places are more likely to seek a fatal escape.

Vanessa S. Nelson / Capital Public Radio

Health Care

The ‘S’ Word: How Suicide Is Devastating Amador County And Rural Communities

September 10, 2018 | Sammy Caiola

Amador has the third-highest suicide rate of any county in California — about three times the state average and the top 20 counties on the list are some of the most remote and least populous places in the state.

Health Care

Amador County: Faces Of Suicide Prevention

September 6, 2018 | Sammy Caiola

For a long time, Amador County has had culture of silence around suicide. There’s a growing coalition of residents trying to break it, in hopes of convincing friends, family and neighbors to get help. Here are some of the people who are speaking up.

Bill Lavallie / Ledger Dispatch

Second Murder-Suicide In Five Months Casts Violent Shadow On Amador County

September 4, 2018 | Sammy Caiola

These crimes cause a huge ripple through communities, and are often just the tip of the iceberg for deeper problems in broken families.