KCSO: Viral post about Idaho suicide rates during pandemic are false

Hayden looks to double deputy presence
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KOOTENAI CO., Idaho — The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office says the numbers showing that several dozen county residents have attempted suicide during quarantine are wrong.

A graphic has made the rounds through several community pages like ‘Idahoans Against Quarantine,’ claiming that while there have been no COVID-related deaths, there have been 73 suicides in the last six weeks, which is as many as the total suicides in Kootenai County last year.

The graphic was later updated to say that it was not 73 suicides, but 73 suicide attempts.

Kootenai Suicide Numbers

“We’ve received numerous questions on this,” says Lieutenant Stuart Miller, regional SWAT Team commander for the Sheriff’s Office. “Basically, the information that is being put out there by these folks is not accurate.”

Lt. Miller explained that between March 1 and April 16, 2020, their dispatch center received 73 calls countywide for suicide threats and attempts. That same time frame in 2019, they received the exact same amount of calls.

They had 24 protective custody cases—someone considered a danger to themselves or others, but not necessarily suicidal—in that time frame this year, and 28 last year.

The Sheriff’s Office further clarified, saying that the dispatched calls related to self harm; which includes calls from concerned residents about another person, mental health concerns, or calls for protective custody.

Of the 73 calls, the Sheriff’s Office says that 33 percent were taken into protective custody, and the other 67 percent were cleared, either with no action needed or with mental health resources provided.

Three of the calls were dispatches to confirmed suicides.

Lt. Miller said that there have been two suicides between March 1 and April 16 this year, and in that same time frame in 2019, there were three.