By Susan Scutti
8 June 2018

(CNN) – Suicide rates increased by 25 percent across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016, according to research published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30 percent, the government report finds.

More than half of those who died by suicide had not been diagnosed with a mental health condition, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC.

"These findings are disturbing. Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the US right now, and it's one of three causes that is actually increasing recently, so we do consider it a public health problem -- and something that is all around us," Schuchat said. The other two top 10 causes of death that are on the rise are Alzheimer's disease and drug overdoses, she noted.

In 2016 alone, about 45,000 lives were lost to suicide.

"Our data show that the problem is getting worse," Schuchat said.

Using data from the National Vital Statistics System for 50 states and the District of Columbia, CDC researchers analyzed suicide rates for people 10 and older from 1999 through 2016.

Overall, the US experienced a 25 percent rise in the rate of suicides during that period, with individual states ranging from a 6 percent increase in Delaware to a nearly 58 percent increase in North Dakota, the researchers say.

All states except Nevada experienced an increase; although Nevada showed a 1 percent decrease in suicide, the state's suicide rate was still high, ranging between 21 and 23 suicides for every 100,000 people through the years studied, the researchers say.

Suicide rates were four times greater in the highest state compared with the lowest when calculated on an annual basis during the most recent time period, 2014 to 2016.

Montana experienced about 29 suicides for every 100,000 people – the highest in the nation – compared with about seven people out of every 100,000 in the District of Columbia – the lowest. As a whole, the nation saw 15 people dying by suicide for every 100,000 in 2016.

"The most common method was firearm, followed by hanging or suffocation, followed by poisoning," Schuchat said. "Opioids were present in 31 percent of individuals who died by poisoning." She added that intentionality is difficult to determine in cases in which a person dies by overdose.

Deborah Stone, lead author of the study and a behavioral scientist at the CDC, said Thursday, "We typically see that firearms make up about half of all suicides, and that tends to be pretty consistent." [more]

Suicide rate: US saw 25% increase since 1999, CDC says


Increase in suicide rates across the U.S. from 1999 to 2016, by state. Graphic: CDC

7 June 2018 (CDC) – Suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise.

Suicide is rarely caused by a single factor. Although suicide prevention efforts largely focus on identifying and providing treatment for people with mental health conditions, there are many additional opportunities for prevention.

“Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans – and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. “From individuals and communities to employers and healthcare professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse this troubling rise in suicide.”

Many factors contribute to suicide

For this Vital Signs report, CDC researchers examined state-level trends in suicide rates from 1999-2016. In addition, they used 2015 data from CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System, which covered 27 states, to look at the circumstances of suicide among people with and without known mental health conditions.

Researchers found that more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Relationship problems or loss, substance misuse; physical health problems; and job, money, legal or housing stress often contributed to risk for suicide. Firearms were the most common method of suicide used by those with and without a known diagnosed mental health condition.

State suicide rates vary widely

The most recent overall suicide rates (2014-2016) varied four-fold; from 6.9 per 100,000 residents per year in Washington, D.C. to 29.2 per 100,000 residents in Montana.

Across the study period, rates increased in nearly all states. Percentage increases in suicide rates ranged from just under 6 percent in Delaware to over 57 percent in North Dakota. Twenty-five states had suicide rate increases of more than 30 percent.

Wide range of prevention activities needed

The report recommends that states take a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention and address the range of factors contributing to suicide. This requires coordination and cooperation from every sector of society: government, public health, healthcare, employers, education, media and community organizations.

To help states with this important work, in 2017 CDC released a technical package on suicide prevention that describes strategies and approaches based on the best available evidence. This can help inform states and communities as they make decisions about prevention activities and priorities.

Everyone can help prevent suicide:

  • Learn the warning signs of suicide to identify and appropriately respond to people at risk. Find out how this can save a life by visiting: www.BeThe1to.com
  • Reduce access to lethal means – such as medications and firearms – among people at risk of suicide.
  • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

The media can avoid increasing risk when reporting on suicide by:

  • Following and sharing recommendations available at reportingonsuicide.org (for example, avoiding dramatic headlines or explicit details on suicide methods);
  • Providing information on suicide warning signs and suicide prevention resources; and
  • Sharing stories of hope and healing.

Vital Signs is a CDC report that typically appears on the first Tuesday of the month as part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators, and what can be done to drive down these health threats.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Suicide rates rising across the U.S.


Life expectancy at birth in the US and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1995-2015. Members of the Organisation for Economic Coordination and Development include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and the US. Graphic:  Woolf and Aron, 2018 / The BMJ

ABSTRACT: Life expectancy in the US has fallen for the second year in a row. This is alarming because life expectancy has risen for much of the past century in developed countries, including the US. The decline in US health relative to other countries, however, is not new; it has been unfolding for decades (fig 1). In 1960, Americans had the highest life expectancy, 2.4 years higher than the average for countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But the US started losing ground in the 1980s. US life expectancy fell below the OECD average in 1998, plateaued in 2012, and is now 1.5 years lower than the OECD average.

Failing health of the United States

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