Health

Study: U.S. Suicide Rate Hits 30-Year High

| by Michael Allen
Suicide Rates 2009Suicide Rates 2009

A federal study released on April 22 found the suicide rate in the U.S. hit its highest peak in almost 30 years.

According to the study by the National Center for Health Statistics, the overall U.S. suicide rate increased by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014.

The nation went up to 13 suicides per 100,000 people in 2014, the highest level since 1986.

The study also found the preferred method of suicide for American males was guns (55.4 percent), while women most often chose poisoning (34.1 percent).

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A whopping 42,773 Americans took their own lives in 2014 in contrast to 29,199 in 1999.

There was an especially large suicide increase among women and middle-aged Americans, notes The New York Times.

Women 45 to 64-years-old saw a suicide increase of 63 percent, while men in the same age range went up by 43 percent.

Suicide among girls ages 10 to 14 jumped from 50 in 1999 to 150 in 2014.

"This one certainly jumped out," Sally Curtin, a statician for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one of the authors of the report, said, according to The New York Times.

"It’s really stunning to see such a large increase in suicide rates affecting virtually every age group," Katherine Hempstead of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation added.

Native American women saw a 89 percent increase, while men went up by 38 percent.

White, middle-aged women jumped by 80 percent, but the suicide rate dropped for black men and for all Americans 75 years old or older.

Now, there are calls to increase suicide awareness and prevention in America's for-profit health care system.

While some hospitals and heath care practices screen people for suicidal thoughts and have good treatment, there are many facilities in 2016 that do not, The New York Times notes.

"We have more and more effective treatments, but we have to figure out how to bake them into health care systems so they are used more automatically," Dr. Jane Pearson, chairwoman of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Suicide Research Consortium, said.

"We’ve got bits and pieces, but we haven’t really put them all together yet," Pearson added.

As with the lack of general physical heath care, the problem for suicide prevention goes back to funding.

Pearson acknowledged the NIH's funding for suicide prevention has only increased from $22 million in 2012 to $25 million in 2016, and is a small part of all the funding for mental illnesses.

Sources: The New York Times, National Center for Health Statistics via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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