Weekly County Spotlight - Midland County
Midland County is one of the largest counties served in Region 9 in both land area and population. The population as of 2015 was 161,077 people. The land area is 902 square miles. The county seat of Midland county is the city of Midland. In addition to the City of Midland, Midland County is also home to a portion of Odessa, Texas and the town of Greenwood, Texas. A large portion of the services provided by the Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the parent agency of the Prevention Resource Center, are offered in Midland County. Some of these programs include Youth Prevention programs, the Midland Coalition, and our Mommy/Daddy and me programs. All of the programs are designed to teach children, families, and the community about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and the consequences of using them.
The high population concentration in Midland county allows for a large amount of data to be collected from the county for analysis. As such, the Prevention Resource Center uses the data to remain on top of current drug trends in the area so that we might educate the youth, adults, and community members of the county. The data from Midland County, unlike some other counties in Region 9, reflect a disturbing trend of suicides and deaths related to substance use. In the years from 2013 to 2015, Midland County reported 50 diseases, poisonings, and deaths from substance abuse. This number is only an estimate as many of these cases are hard to prove are a direct result of substance abuse. Many deaths are attributed to other causes (i.e., medical causes) rather than substance use. Therefore, it is likely that the actual number of diseases, poisonings, and deaths is significantly higher than 50.
An even more alarming statistic for Midland County is the number of suicide. Numbers indicate Midland County had 70 suicides between the years of 2012 and 2014. It is important to note that numbers of suicides are often misleading due to the high burden of proof placed on law enforcement officials. In many cases, if law enforcement officials do not find indisputable evidence of overdose (e.g., a suicide note), they are hesitant to classify the death as a suicide. As a result, it is likely that the number of suicides is significantly higher than what is reported. Even without those reported suicides, the crude death rate by suicide in Midland County is drastically higher than the state and the national average. The crude death rate is the number of people per 100,000 that die of a given disease/accident/event. In this case, we are referring to death by suicide. According to the CDC, the crude death rate by suicide in the United States from 2012-2014 was 13.13/100,000. The Texas average was 11.76/100,000. Based on data collected by the Prevention Resource Center, the crude death rate by suicide in Midland County in 2012-2014 was a whopping 46.5/100,000. That’s 3.5 times higher than the national average and almost 4 times higher than the state average.
Given the alarmingly high rates in our area, it is very important for everyone to be aware of the warnings signs and the resources available to them. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, we encourage you to ask for help. You can text HOME to 741741 and a crisis counselor will text with you. In addition, you can call the suicide prevention hotline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. Lastly, you can always call 911 and they will send out first responders to get help. It is also our responsibility to be aware when individuals in our lives might be considering suicide and do what we can to help them and encourage them to seek help. Here are some warning signs that someone you know might be considering suicide.
Talking about death/wanting to die/killing oneself
Talking about feeling hopeless or the world might be better off without them
Talking about feeling trapped or being in significant emotional/physical pain
Withdrawing from normal activities
Being socially isolated
Increasing use of drugs/alcohol
Reporting difficulty with sleeping or sleeping excessively
Giving away personal belongings and items that hold significance to them
In addition to knowing the warning signs, here are some steps you can take if you believe a person you know might be suicidal.
Ask them if they are considering killing themselves. This will not put the idea in their head or make them more likely to commit suicide.
Ask them if they have a plan for how they will do it. If the individual is seriously considering suicide, they will frequently have a specific plan rather than a vague one.
Listen without judging. Convey that you are there for them and they are important to you.
Stay with them until you can get them further help. In some cases, this may mean calling 911. Remember, they aren’t arresting the person, just trying to get them some help.
Remove any objects they might use to attempt suicide. If they did mention specific things in their plan, it is important to remove those items first, if possible.
Published July 18, 2018.