TRENTON — New Jersey's suicide rate dropped for the first time in five years, according to newly released figures from the state Department of Health.

Released the same week as celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade took their own lives, the state said New Jersey's rate went from 9.7 per 100,000 New Jersey residents ages 10 and older (789 deaths) in 2015 to 8.4 per 100,000 (687 deaths) in 2016, the last year for which statistics are available.

Suicide remains one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States with the rate nationwide increasing by 25 percent during the last two decade, according to the Department of Health.

While the rate went down in New Jersey, "this is a reminder that no one is immune. These tragic deaths devastate families in all levels of society every 12 minutes," Commissioner Shereef Elnahal said.

According to data from the New Jersey Violent Death Reporting System (NJVDRS), funded through the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System, 40 percent of New Jersey residents who died by suicide in 2015 were reported to have had a history of a diagnosed mental health problem; and 30 percent were in either mental health or substance abuse treatment at the time of their death.

“Depression is one of the major causes of suicide that can be addressed through treatment,” said Deborah Hartel, deputy commissioner of the Integrated Health Services Branch, which contains the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “There are effective treatments that help people recover every day.”

If you feel you or someone you know may be in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK, or the NJ Hopeline, 1-855-654-6735.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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