US Suicide Rates Hit Record-High Levels, CDC Says

Megan Brooks

June 20, 2019

Suicide rates in the United States have risen significantly over the past 2 decades and are now at the highest level since World War II, federal health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today.

New data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) show the age-adjusted suicide rate was 33% higher in 2017 than in 1999 — 14.0 per 100,000 standard population vs 10.5 per 100,000.

The data in an article published online June 20 in Health E-Stats provide supplemental information on suicide rates by sex, age, and race/ethnicity.

"Information about the groups at highest risk for suicide can help inform prevention efforts," first author Sally Curtin, MA, from the Division of Vital Statistics, NCHS, told Medscape Medical News.

"The key findings are that for both males and females, age-adjusted suicide rates increased significantly between 1999 and 2017 for all race and ethnicity groups except non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders," said Curtin.

In 2017, among males and females of all ages, suicide rates were highest for non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Natives compared to other race/ethnicity groups, Curtin said.

A "National Tragedy"

The data show a 139% increase in suicides among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native women from 1999 to 2017 (from 4.6 to 11.0 per 100,000) and a 71% increase among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native men (19.8 to 33.8 per 100,000).

For both non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native males and females, rates of suicide are highest among people aged 15 to 24 years and 25 to 44 years. Among the 45- to 64-year-old age group, the rate was highest among white people for both men and women.

Data for the analysis are from the National Vital Statistics System Multiple Cause of Death files for 1999 and 2017.

The results are in line with a report published earlier this month in JAMA that showed a significant uptick in suicides among 15- to 24-year-olds between 2000 and 2017.

Similarly, a report published last week showed a troubling increase in deaths by suicide and drug overdose among persons aged 18 to 34.

As reported by Medscape Medical News, between 2007 and 2017, this age group saw a 108% increase in drug-related deaths, a 69% increase in alcohol-related deaths, and a 35% increase in deaths by suicide.

"The huge increase in the numbers of millennials being lost to substance misuse and suicide is a national tragedy," John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust for America's Health, said in a press release.

NCHS Health E-Stats. Published online June 20, 2019. Full text

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