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February 10, 2020

Suicide in America, in 5 charts

Daily Briefing

    Deaths by suicide in the United States are on the rise, particularly among young adults and men, and reached 25,850 suicides in 2016, according to the latest CDC data.

    5-part report series: Your behavioral health access playbook

    CDC recently published two separate reports that offer a closer look into suicide rates in America for both adults and teens. One report examines 2016 data reported by 32 states via CDC's National Violent Death Reporting System for all U.S. residents ages 10 and older. The second report takes a closer look at death-certificate data spanning 2000 to 2017 from CDC's National Vital Statistics System to identify the underlying cause of death for U.S. residents ages 10 to 24. Together, they paint a gripping picture of how suicide is affecting the nation.

    Suicide in America

    In 2016, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and accounted for the highest rate of violent deaths (62.3%) for individuals ages 10 and older. However, the data show suicide disproportionately affected men and young populations.

    According to CDC, suicide rates in 2016 among men were more than double the rates among women in every age group, with the highest suicide rate being among men ages 85 and older.

    Suicide in 2016 was among the top two leading causes of death for persons aged 10–34 years and among the top four for persons aged 35–54 years.

    While suicide rates were higher among older adults, the CDC data show suicide in 2017 was the second-leading cause of death among individuals age 10–24 years old. In fact, CDC's report examining suicide trends among young people ages 10-24 shows the suicide rate for that population has been rising steadily since 2007. Meanwhile, homicide, which CDC tracks alongside suicide to account for violent deaths, have largely decreased, with the exception of a brief spike from 2014 to 2016.

    CDC also found that suicide rates were especially high among American Indian/Alaskan Natives males, and non-Hispanic white males.

    CDC found that the most common the most common method of suicide among those who died by suicide was firearm, followed by strangulation/suffocation, and poisoning. However, when broken down by gender, the most common method varied, with men using firearms and women poisoning.

    Alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids were among the most common substances that appeared in toxicology tests, according to CDC.

    In addition, CDC found mental health problems, intimate partner problems, interpersonal conflicts, and acute life stressors were primary precipitating events for multiple types of violent deaths, including suicides among youths aged 10–24 years.

    CDC also found that in 2017, 49% of suicide victims had previously been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Of those previously diagnosed with a mental health condition, 74% had been diagnosed with depression or dysthymia.

    Among those who died by suicide in 2016, CDC found that nearly a third had experienced a crisis during the previous two weeks or expected to experience one in the upcoming two weeks, while just under a quarter were dealing with a physical health problem.

    CDC also found that nearly a third of those who died by suicide in 2016 had a history of suicidal thoughts or plans and over two-thirds had disclosed their suicidal intent to either a previous or current intimate partner or another family member. In all, CDC found that 91.4% of suicide victims in 2016 had previously disclosed their suicidal intent to someone (CDC Surveillance for Violent Deaths report, 10/4; CDC NCHS Data Brief, October 2019).

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