One Coronado suicide drew world headlines, blanket TV coverage and a Wikipedia entry. Four months earlier, another Crown City suicide didn’t even rate an online obituary.
in the Spreckels mansion is still hotly debated. Gary Vander Wyst’s gunshot wound to the head in the 1800 block of Silver Strand Boulevard at age 47 has come to light only now.
Vander Wyst, an Imperial Beach resident and 1981 Mar Vista High School graduate, was among 393 suicides recorded last year by the county Medical Examiner’s Office. It was the highest number in 23 years, U-T San Diego reported.
Encinitas had four suicides in 2011, according to information released Monday at the request of Patch.com. The deceased ranged in age 52 to 63. See attached PDF.
County spokeswoman Sarah Gordon calls this report “preliminary” because a small number of cases from 2011 are still under investigation. An earlier release cited 392 suicides in 2011.
“It’s sad to know we are losing more than one person each day to suicide,” said county Supervisor Greg Cox. “It’s important for residents to know the County offers mental health services for children and adults.”
But compared with other Patch communities, Encinitas’ four deaths judged suicides was low.
According to information provided by the County:
- Carlsbad had 14 suicides, ranging in age from 20 to 95.
- Imperial Beach had five, ranging from 47 to 82.
- La Jolla had nine, ranging from 31 to 91.
- La Mesa had eight, ranging from 29 to 97.
- Lemon Grove had five, ranging from 44 to 81.
- Oceanside had 27, ranging from 14 to 80.
- Poway had seven, ranging from 43 to 73.
- Ramona had one, age 69.
- Santee had nine, ranging from 15 to 80.
- Spring Valley had nine, ranging from 22 to 66.
The attached document also contains case numbers. Information on any of these deaths, including name of the victim, is available from the Medical Examiner’s Office.
Officials say the county’s suicide rate—about 12 per 100,000 people—has not changed in recent years, however.
In the mid-1990s, it rose to more than 14 per 100,000 people, said U-T San Diego.
“Suicide can be prevented,” said Nick Macchione, director of the county Health and Human Services Agency. “We all should learn the warning signs of suicide and where to get help so we can be ready to provide assistance if needed.
“Suicide affects not only the individual. The devastating impact reaches far beyond those who take their own lives.”
Some of the risk factors and warning signs of suicide listed by the county include:
- Talking of hurting or killing oneself
- Hopelessness or helplessness
- Divorce, separation, stress on family
- Loss of health (real or imaginary)
- Loss of job or home
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Isolation from family and friends
- Daring or risk-taking behavior
Most people who attempt or complete a suicide had one or more warning signs before the attempt, said the County.
“People think about hurting themselves when they feel hopeless and powerless,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director of County Mental Health Services. “When a friend or a loved one comes to you for help, take it seriously. If he or she is having thoughts of suicide or ending it all, seek help immediately.”
People in suicidal danger should call 911. The county’s Access and Crisis Line is 888-724-7240. Other information is at Up2SD.org.