Suicide has been a highly concerning issue for some time, affecting the lives of millions of people across the globe. Suicide in the U.S. is a leading cause of death, with the ramifications of suicide detrimentally impacting communities. Read on to learn about suicide rates in the U.S., and what can be done to respond to this concern.
Key Aspects of Suicide
Suicidality, also known as suicidal ideation, is defined by the American Psychiatry Association (APA) as seriously contemplating one’s own death, often with a concrete plan of execution. Suicide itself is the act of intentionally taking one’s life.
There is a fundamental difference between suicidality and passing thoughts about death, or even about killing oneself. Fleeting thoughts about dying are rather common and should not be a cause for concern, whereas suicidality is more considered and prone to actualization. Suicidality poses a risk to one’s life, and should receive proper attention, consideration, and treatment.
Suicide Rates in the U.S.
The CDC has come out with the following facts about suicide within the U.S.:
- 0.5% of the U.S. adult population, or 1.4 million U.S. adults, are believed to have attempted suicide.
- Due to the above, relatively high U.S. suicide rate, suicide is considered the 12th most frequent cause of death in the country, with over 45,900 individuals committing suicide in the U.S. per year. Heart-related illness and cancer have remained the top two most common causes of death, with COVID-related deaths recently taking the Number 3 spot.
- 130 individuals in the U.S. are believed to die from suicide every day, or one death every 11 minutes.
- Over the course of each year, 12.2 million Americans are believed to have seriously contemplated suicide, 3.2 million are believed to have planned their suicide, and 1.2 million Americans have considered it.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among those between 10-14 years of age, and those between 25-34 years of age.
- Despite receiving far less news coverage, there are twice as many cases of suicide in the U.S. as there are homicides.
- 1.5 more women attempt suicide compared to men. However, 3.9 more men carry out completed suicide attempts that result in their deaths. Suggested explanations for this gender disparity state that:
- Suicide methods employed by men tend to be more severe, and therefore more likely to result in their deaths.
- Men are less encouraged to express their emotions, leading to a state of hopelessness conducive to following through with suicidal ideation.
- Depression (which may lead to suicide) is thought to be underdiagnosed among men, causing loved ones and mental health professionals to miss the opportunity to offer preventative support.
- Men are less likely than women to seek help from others when dealing with emotional or mental hardships.
- 52.53% of completed suicides within the U.S. were carried out with the use of a firearm.
- Middle-aged white men account for 69.7% of all completed suicide attempts in the U.S.
- Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community (LGBTQ+ community) have also shown a higher prevalence of suicide attempts, compared to members of the heterosexual community. Thirteen precent of gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals have reported attempting suicide. Transgenders are usually found to have higher suicide attempt rates, ranging from 41%-45%. Suicidal acts of LGBTQ individuals are often found to relate to experiences of rejection, intolerance, or loneliness. Social acceptance, however, has been shown to act as a protective element: while 57% of transgenders rejected by their parents attempt suicide, a significantly lower 33% of those accepted by their parents attempt to do so.
- Army veterans are another population disproportionately affected by suicide. They have been found to be 50% more likely to die of suicide than non-veterans, or 1.5 higher than the national average. Isolation has been linked to increased suicide rates among members of this population.
- 90% of those who attempt suicide survive, and do not end up dying of suicide later in life.
- That said, many of individuals who survive a suicide attempt are left with debilitating physical injuries, which often require a costly rehabilitation process. Lingering emotional issues, and particularly post-traumatic or depressive symptoms, can also appear following such an attempt.
Suicidal ideation often requires the intervention of a mental health professional, as well as the involvement of a caring support system. As such, it can be helpful to consult official mental health-related organizations for tried-and-true ways to offer effective care for those at risk of attempting suicide.
The CDC has published a comprehensive guidebook aimed at suicide prevention. It highlights economic support systems, protective environments, and promoting beneficial relationships.
Those fearing a loved one may be at risk for suicide can refer them to support services. Supportive care types proven to be effective include:
- Helplines: It can be vital to connect an individual who may be considering ending their life, with an empathetic and protective mental health setting that can help them manage their emotional pain. The following organizations offer online mental health support:
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