Clark County is the most populous county in the state of Nevada, and home to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Las Vegas. Given the large numbers of people who live in and visit Clark County, and given the risky behaviors that attract certain visitors to Las Vegas, it is understandable that the county would struggle with issues related to health and safety.
The Scope of the Problem
To be clear, Nevada’s suicide problem is not limited to Clark County. In recent years, depending upon how the statistics are adjusted for age and population, Nevada has ranked as high as fourth, but only as low as eighth, on lists of states with the highest suicide rates in the nation. In other words, regardless of how the data is divided, Nevada’s suicide rate is consistently higher than at least 80 percent of the nation.
Contributing to the severity of the problem is the fact that more than half of all people who commit suicide in Nevada use a firearm to do so. Even though Nevada only ranks eighth in gun ownership among all states, it is second only to Wyoming in the prevalence of suicides involving pistols, shotguns, and other firearms.
With so many Nevadans living in Clark County, and the majority of those who visit the state spending at least part of their stay in there, many of the state’s suicides occur in Clark County. Obviously, the presence of Las Vegas is a factor in the Clark County suicide problem, as well as in the statewide statistics.
For example, in 2008, National Public Radio’s Michelle Trudeau identified Las Vegas as “the suicide capital of America.” The NPR article, which focused on Harvard researchers who had analyzed 30 years worth of data, found that the suicide risk for people who live in Las Vegas is 50 percent higher than for those who live in any other state in the nation.
The Harvard researchers also concluded that Las Vegas residents who travel outside the city have a lower risk of suicide while they are gone, while visitors to the city are at greater risk of suicide while they are in Clark County’s most popular destination.
Preventing Suicide in Clark County
Some experts have theorized that Clark County’s high suicide rate may be fueled by the fact that Las Vegas attracts individuals who are already struggling with substance use disorders, gambling disorder, and other mental health disorders that can put them at increased risk for suicidal ideation.
And with so many new people moving into the county every year, a significant number of residents are dealing with the stress of living in a new location and being separated from family and other sources of support, which can also raise their risk for suicide.
Awareness of the signs, access to effective care, and the existence of an ongoing support network are keys to preventing suicide in Clark County, across Nevada, and throughout the United States.
The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health has an office and a website that are focused on suicide prevention with information about the warning signs that a person may be at risk of taking his or her own life. Also, The Jason Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to ending youth suicide, has a wealth of valuable information.
If you or someone that you love is at immediate risk of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact emergency personnel in your area.
Once the imminent crisis has passed, investigate mental health and behavioral health treatment programs in Clark County and surrounding areas. Effective professional care can free an individual from thoughts of suicide, and can provide him or her with the comprehensive care that will empower him or her to live a healthier, happier, and much more satisfying life.