US suicide rate at its highest since the end of the second world war

By | June 21, 2019
A person sitting in the shadows

A new report says that suicide rates in the US are increasing

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The rate of suicide in the US is rising, and has reached its highest point since the end of the second world war. According to a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US suicide rate increased by 33 per cent between 1999 and 2017. This is calculated using age-adjusted rates that take into account age distributions across states and years.

In 1999, there were 10.5 suicides per 100,000 people, while in 2017 there were 14 per 100,000.

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The CDC’s statistics show that, in recent years, there has been a marked increase in suicide among US people aged 15 to 24 and those aged 25 to 34, although the highest rates remain among those who are middle-aged. The report finds that for men and women aged 45-64, the suicide rate was highest among people who are white.

Men have historically died by suicide at higher rates than women, and that trend continues in the new report. Despite that, there are some outliers. The largest increase in suicide rates for women was among people who are of Native American ancestry. The suicide rate in this group went from 4.6 to 11 per 100,000 over 18 years. That is an increase of 139 per cent.

For men, the same group saw the highest increase, with a jump from 19.8 to 33.8 per 100,000 people – an increase of 71 per cent. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics said in the report that people who are of Native American ancestry are sometimes misclassified as being part of other ethnic groups, and so deaths could be underestimated by as much 33 per cent.

Even without accounting for that, men and women aged between 15 and 44 in these groups had the highest rate of suicide in the US in 2017.

Need a listening ear?  UK Samaritans: 116123; US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 800 273 8255; hotlines in other countries.

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New Scientist – Health