Vermonters demonstrate resiliency and mental wellness

Rate of suicide deaths per 100,000 male Vermonters age 65 and older


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Story Behind the Curve

In Vermont, death by suicide is high among males 65 years and older (32.2 deaths per 100,000 male Vermont Residents in 2015-2017) .1  Vermont's overall rate of deaths by suicide is 18.3 per 100,000 Vermont residents.  Our goal is for the trend to go down. Nationally, the US suicide death rate is 31.4 deaths per 100,000 males age 65+. While the goal is simple, the issue is complex as many factors contribute to these high rates.   While research does not know exactly what leads people to take their own life, several factors that play a role include access to lethal means, high rates of isolation and decreased social connectedness, and males are typically less likely to ask for help. More men die by suicide than women. Firearms are the most common method used by someone that takes their own life and are used more often by men than women.

Suicide awareness promotion, prevention and intervention efforts are vital to reduce this burden.    The Vermont Departments of Health and Mental Health are collaborating with community partners to reduce these rates.  One Agency cannot turn the curve alone; there are many partners who have a role to play making a difference.

  1. Vermont Vital Statistics

For more data on suicide mortality and self-harm morbidity, please visit


What Works

Vermont has adopted the Zero Suicide Framwork in healthcare setttings. The foundational belief of Zero Suicide is that suicide deaths for individuals under the care of health and behavioral health systems are preventable. For healthcare systems dedicated to improving patient safety, Zero Suicide presents an aspirational challenge and practical framework for system-wide transformation toward safer suicide care.

Systems using evidence based programs covering prevention, screening and identification of older adults at risk and subsequent treatment and follow up are being developed in Vermont. Key strategies include the following: Zero Suicide, Mental Health First Aid: for Older Adults (MHFA), universal screening suicidality in healthcare settings such as the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), the Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ) toolkit, and  other evidence based screening and treatments including the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS).


The Vermont Department's of Mental Health and Health will work in partnership with the Agency of Human Services Leadership Group as well as community partmers such as the Center for Health and Learning (CHL) will promote interventions in all three categories i.e. Universal, Selective and Indicated. 

Vermont has adopted the Nation Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s platform called Zero Suicide. Zero Suicide project is a collection of intervention designed to improve care for those identified with needing help with suicidal thoughts and other related problems. The alliance defines Zero Suicide as "a commitment to suicide prevention in health and behavioral health care systems, and also a specific set of tools and strategies. It is both a concept and a practice."


Why Is This Important?

Sucidie is a major pulic health challenge, but it is ofetn preventable. This indicator is part of Healthy Vermonters 2020 (the State Health Assessment) that documents the health status of Vermonters at the start of the decade and the population health indicators and goals that will guide the work of public health through 2020. The Agency of Human Services (AHS) operates in support of the Governor’s overall agenda for the state and his seven statewide priorities. Additionally, AHS’ mission and the work of its six Departments are targeted to achieve results in four strategic areas: the reduction of the lasting impacts of poverty; promotion of the health, wellbeing and safety of communities; enhancement of program effectiveness and accountability; reform of the health system. These data can inform practitioners who work in health and mental health and public health planners as to how to plan interventions that are designed for both the individual practitioners and also community-based prevention.


Notes on Methodology

Data is updated as it becomes available and timing may vary by data source. For more information, please see the Vermont Suicidie Morbidity and Mortality Data Briefs

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