Preliminary figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States indicate that 2016 saw the highest number of suicide deaths ever recorded. In 2022, at least 49,449 persons died from self-inflicted wounds; this represents roughly 15 deaths per 100,000 people.
In 2021, after two years of reduction, the suicide rate increased sharply. The continuous rise in rates in 2022 eclipsed the all-time high set in 2018. The suicide rate in 2017 was 14.9 per 100,000 people, which is 5% higher than 2018’s record high and a 10% increase over the rate in 2016.
The tweet below verifies the news:
More people died from suicide in the US last year than any other year on record, according to provisional data from the CDC https://t.co/hLMQe4F40v
— CNN (@CNN) August 10, 2023
“I think it’s important to realize we’ve seen these increases for many, many years,” Dr. Debra Houry, the CDC’s chief medical officer, said on an episode of SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio Reports” that aired Thursday.
“There was a slight decline in 2019 and 2020, but really over the past 15 years, we’ve been on this trajectory. And I know we can prevent this. I know we can intervene. There’s much that can be done, and I think it’s de-stigmatizing mental health issues, realizing that many people are at risk, and it’s not just mental health. … Not everybody who dies from suicide has a mental health issue. It could be a precipitating factor that led to it.”
Each month, states and other jurisdictions send data into the National Vital Statistics System, which is then compiled by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The most recent revision, released on Thursday, is a “set of provisional data for 2022,” but the definitive numbers won’t be available until much later in the year.
According to preliminary figures for 2022, suicide will continue to rise, having become the eleventh biggest cause of death in 2021. In terms of severity, it’s right between chronic liver disease and the flu and pneumonia. More than half of all suicides in 2022 utilized firearms, according to preliminary statistics.
The recent increase in suicide rates was largely due to suicides involving firearms, according to a separate analysis published in June by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. There was a 10% increase in firearm-related suicides between 2019 and 2021, but an 8% decrease in suicides overall.
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According to the JHU study, in 2021, white men and people aged 75 and up were at the highest risk for suicide by firearm. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which replaced the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and has the same goal of being easier to remember than the 911 Emergency Medical Services number, turned one a year old last month.
According to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, 988 has fielded about 5 million calls, texts, and online chat messages in the year since its launch. About 20% of those calls were connected to the Veterans Crisis Line, which serves active duty personnel, veterans, and their families.
The great majority of American individuals are unaware that they can reach licensed counselors trained to de-escalate a crisis, provide emotional support, and connect them to other mental health resources by calling, texting, or chatting online to 988.
According to a poll published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness last month, more than 80% of Americans were either unfamiliar with or had never heard of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. As a result, there is a growing need for additional crisis counselors.
According to a survey from last fall by CNN and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 90% of American adults are of the opinion that the United States is in the midst of a mental health crisis. Of all people, more than 20% rated their personal mental health as “fair” or “poor,” with particularly high rates among those under the age of 30, those who identify as LGBT, and those with incomes of less than $40,000.
More than half of LGBT people and those under the age of 30 reported experiencing constant or frequent anxiety within the preceding year. About 20% of individuals also reported feeling lonely or depressed frequently or always over the past year. There are things everyone can do to help people who are struggling, Houry said.
“Asking and talking about suicide is really important. … If somebody does say that they’re thinking about suicide, really help keep them safe. If you have medicines or a firearm in the home, make sure that those are secured. Be there. If you ask somebody about it, they disclose any stressors, you’ve gotta be there for them. And that really helps them prove and increase that connectedness and then help them connect, whether it’s to a medical professional, a psychiatrist or 988. And then follow up. … If you’ve reached out to a friend or a family member and done this, follow up and see how they’re doing.”
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