Suicide rates in the US just rose to their highest in 3 decades

Cemetary flower grave death

More Americans are taking their own lives today than they have at any other point in the past three decades.

Suicide rates rose close to steadily from 1999 through 2014, the most recent year for which we have data, according to a new report released Friday from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The uptick in deaths by suicide during this period is in sharp contrast to the rate of suicides seen in the country between 1986 and 1999, when suicides declined almost consistently each year.

Of particular concern are several groups of Americans, notably young adults. Suicide is among the leading causes of death for both adolescents and young adults
, according to the new data. But suicide among middle-aged Americans
is rising as well.

Here are the report’s main findings:

  • The US suicide rate, adjusted for age, rose 24% between 1999 and 2014, from 10.5 people dying by suicide per 100,000 to 13 people dying by suicide per 100,000 population
  • Suicide rates rose sharply after 2006, coinciding with the US economic downturn
  • The increases weren’t limited by age or gender: They rose for men and women and for all ages 10 — 74.
  • Among women, the group most affected by increased suicide rates was girls 10 to 14. For men, it was those aged 45-64.
  • The most frequent suicide method in 2014 for men was firearms (55%); for women, poisoning was the most frequent method (34%)

“It’s really stunning to see such a large increase in suicide rates affecting virtually every age group,” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation senior adviser for health care Katherine Hempstead, who spotted a link between suicides in middle age and rising rates of distress about jobs and personal finances, told the New York Times.

Here’s a chart from the report showing suicide rates for American women:

Suicide rates for women

And another chart showing suicide rates for American men:

Suicide rates for men

The report breaks suicides down further by method and gender:

Suicide by method