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Heads Up: Suicide Rates Increase

Written By Dr. Alexis Moreno, @Witandreason

Adapted from “Ending Suicide Starts Now,” Originally Published on June, 2018 at WitandReason.com

Suicide was responsible for nearly 45,000 deaths in the U.S. according to our more recent year of available data (CDC 2016). That comes out to approximately - One suicide every 12 minutes in the United States.

These numbers are a 28% suicide rate increase from 2000, and there are even more people who have attempted suicide. In 2014:

  • For every 1 suicide there were 27 adults who reported making a suicide attempt.
  • For every 1 suicide there were over 227 adults who reported seriously considering suicide.
  • For every 1 suicide there were 9 adults who were hospitalized for self-harm injuries.

None of these figures include people who were not forthcoming about suicidal experiences or those who never received treatment for suicide attempts in the United States. Numbers help us understand the occurrence, frequency, and patterns. Remembering that each one of those numbers is a human being and each one of those human beings was associated to at the very least a small group of people, helps us understand the gravity of this health concern.

Learning that certain groups of people are at high risk for suicide doesn’t help us see everyone’s struggle. In fact, if not applied appropriately, statistics on suicide rates and risks inhibit our ability to properly diagnose, treat, and refer individuals who don’t fit the mold. Identifying patterns among those with high suicide rates give us some indication that something exceptionally concerning is going on with specialized groups of people. Something is happening that requires additional research, attention, and care. So, use the following information published by the CDC to increase your awareness and concern, while maintaining a practice of empathetically listening to all individuals who present with suicide risk factors.

While suicide is present across various groups of people, the highest rates of suicide are among the following populations:

  • Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native
  • Non-Hispanic White

Suicide is also disproportionately found among:

  • Middle-aged adults (aged 35-64 years old)
    • 35% increase from 2000 to 2015
    • 29% increase seen among males
    • 53% increase among females 
  • Veterans and other Military Personnel 
    • Suicide rates doubled from 2003 to 2008
    • Suicide rates surpass the rate of suicide among civilians.
  • Workers in certain occupational groups (CDC, 2016). 
            • Farming, fishing, and forestry
            • Construction and extraction, installation, maintenance, and repair
            • Protective Service
  • Sexual Minority Youth 
    • 29% of surveyed LGB youth had attempted suicide at least once within the year prior to the survey (CDC, 2016).

Examination of suicide across the human life span presents the following information (CDC, 2016). Among:

              • 10-14-year-olds, suicide is the Third leading cause of death
              • 15-34-year-olds, suicide is the Second leading cause of death
              • 35-44-year-olds, suicide is the Fourth leading cause of death
              • 45-54-year-olds, suicide is the Fifth leading cause of death
              • 55-64-year-olds, suicide is the Eighth leading cause of death

Decreasing these troubling rates of suicide and saving human lives is very much achievable. But just as the issue itself is multifaceted, the solution too requires multi-level interventions. Effectively preventing suicidal behaviors and deaths in the US requires effort and will across all societal-levels, private and public sectors, communities, families, relationships and individuals.

Here is a list of (non-mutually exclusive) strategies by the CDC to prevent suicide starting with the greatest potential for broad impact followed by more specialized strategies:


              • Strengthen Economic Supports
              • Strengthen Access & Delivery Of Suicide Care
              • Create Protective Environments
              • Promote Connectedness
              • Teach Coping & Problem-solving Skills
              • Identify & Support People At Risk
              • Lessen Harms & Prevent Future Risk


              • Strengthen household financial security
              • Housing stabilization policies
              • Coverage of mental health conditions in health insurance policies
              • Reduce provider shortages in underserved areas
              • Safer suicide care through systems change
              • Reduce access to lethal means among persons at risk of suicide
              • Organizational policies and culture
              • Community-based policies to reduce excessive alcohol use
              • Peer norm programs
              • Community engagement activities
              • Social-emotional learning programs
              • Parenting skills and family relationship programs
              • Gatekeeper training
              • Crisis intervention
              • Treatment for people at risk of suicide
              • Treatment to prevent re-attempts
              •  Postvetion
              • Safe reporting and messaging about suicide

Psychologists and other mental health providers, educators, and advocates play a significant role in a variety of the identified strategies and approaches. Collaborating with government officials, health care systems, employers across disciplines, community organizations, schools, and media will strengthen suicide prevention efforts and increase long-term effectiveness.

Let us know how you are using your role across systems and communities to Prevent Suicide. Tweet us @DCPsychAssoc with the #SuicidePrevention

The DC Psychological Association is sponsoring the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of Darkness community walk on October 20th at the Lincoln Memorial.

Each year, suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. Yet suicide prevention doesn't receive anywhere near the funding as other leading causes of death. Please help us raise money to donate to the cause! Net proceeds from the Out of the Darkness Walks benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. AFSP uses the funds to:

              • Fund Research for Suicide Prevention
              • Create and Distribute Education Programs
              • Advocate for Public Policy
              • Support Survivors of Suicide Loss

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