Alabama’s suicide rate has climbed to its highest level since 2000 and appears to remain above the national average.

An Alabama Department of Public Health study says the state has surpassed the national suicide rate since 1990. The recently released statistics show the state’s suicide rate was 12.5 per 100,000 people in 2006. The study says national rates for 2005 and 2006 aren’t available, but the country has maintained a rate near or below 11 suicides per 100,000 for several years.

The latest Alabama report found that 70% of the 573 suicides in 2006 involved firearms, higher than the national percentage of 55.

(The Birmingham News)