Coroner calls suicides an ‘epidemic’ in York County

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – York County Coroner Pam Gay says 2014 brought the largest number of suicides in the office’s history – and the same is on track for this year.

Gay says suicide has been a problem in the county for many years. She said it needs to be talked about.

“I just wish I would’ve known. I just wish I would’ve taken that more seriously,” Gay said.

“It’s always easy after the fact to look back and say ‘yeah, I remember three days ago they said this,’ ” Chief Mark Bentzel of the Northern York Regional Police Department said.

In 2014, 87 people in York County died from suicide, up from 68 in 2013. This year alone, they’ve seen 33 suicides and the trend seems to be increasing.

“We’ve really investigated hundreds of suicides,” Bentzel said.

Bentzel says they’ve had five suicides in less than a month.

“I don’t really know, I can’t say there’s one particular reason,” Gay said.

Gay says oftentimes people who choose to end their life could be dealing with relationship problems, financial strain, or even caregiver stress. But part of the problem is not recognizing the signs.

“We’ve heard in the past from families and friends, ‘oh my goodness they were saying this or they were doing that,’ ” Gay said.

The coroner’s office released a statement reminding people what to look out for, including increased use of alcohol or drugs, change in sleeping and eating patterns, and even extreme mood swings.

“Just because you don’t hear about it for a week or two doesn’t mean that it’s gone away in York County. It is very much a real thing,” Gay said.

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK or the Crisis Intervention at York Hospital at 717-851-5320.

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