U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High

Apr 25, 2016

By Sabrina Tavernise

Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s.

The suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the period of the study, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the study on Friday.

The increases were so widespread that they lifted the nation’s suicide rate to 13 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1986. The rate rose by 2 percent a year starting in 2006, double the annual rise in the earlier period of the study. In all, 42,773 people died from suicide in 2014, compared with 29,199 in 1999.

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

Researchers also found an alarming increase among girls 10 to 14, whose suicide rate, while still very low, had tripled. The number of girls who killed themselves rose to 150 in 2014 from 50 in 1999. “This one certainly jumped out,” said Sally Curtin, a statistician at the center and an author of the report.

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19 comments on “U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High

  • 2
    Cairsley says:

    To Stephen of Wimbledon #1

    The Trump Effect?

    The suicide figures given in the article are based on years up to and including 2014; so it seems that Mr Trump’s latest tilt at the presidency (the only one so far that has come to appear anywhere near capable of succeeding) came just too late to influence those discussed in the article. Mr Trump’s populist approach might in fact have given some sense of hope, however false, to those in the USA who in recent years so lost hope as to do away with themselves.

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  • Thanks Cairsley,

    [Poe’s law[(http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe's_law) strikes.

    On a non-trivial note: The full story is very disturbing.

    I live in another country. That said: I personally discovered that taking in what the media says on a regular basis was harming my mental health – it was a significant, and predictable, element to my developing each severe depressive episode. I also belong to one of the age groups that is suffering from the background mental stresses that are at the root of these numbers – the middle aged. The middle aged, as the demographics for newspaper readers show it is the middle aged who also take the media far, far, too seriously.

    Returning to my normal mode [‘RD.net needs more snark’]: The right-wing media have had two governments to push citizens’ ‘worry’ and ‘disgust’ buttons – if Trump is succeeding this time it’s because the ground work was done in the last 8 to 10 years.

    I’ll happily have a bet with you. If the Republican Party wins two out of three (Fed. Senate, Fed. House and Presidency) in 2016 the numbers for middle aged suicides will improve in the short term. Of course universal health insurance will probably be cut back – so the number of middle aged deaths will rise in the medium and long term. $5?


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  • Hi Cairsley,

    While writing #3 I failed to find a good link to a source on media exposure and depression. Yet, according to Doctor, this is well documented in the medical literature.

    This is the best I’ve managed so far.

    Interestingly, what I could find tended to focus on social media – is social media really that different?. This tends to suggest that traditional media, never short of the incentive or the energy to denounce anything to do with their biggest competitor may be winning the attention battle, even on-line.

    I might be guilty of seeking confirmation bias.


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  • American Indians

    (Native Americans, not folks from India);

    in addition to poverty, drug use, and living on forced parceled land of yester-year, I’ve the impression the general populace just don’t care (about them). “The Forgotten People” moniker is most apt. However, a school teaching the Lakota language to small children gives them a sense of pride (funding dependent).

    white middle-aged women

    Local store provides an excellent cross section of society. The upset six year old who said you’re being a bad mommy today, I felt bad for him while at the same time realizing she may be single and overwhelmed with who knows what.

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  • 6
    Cairsley says:

    To Stephen, Earl of Wimbledon. #3

    I’ll happily have a bet with you. If the Republican Party wins two out of three (Fed. Senate, Fed. House and Presidency) in 2016 the numbers for middle aged suicides will improve in the short term. Of course universal health insurance will probably be cut back – so the number of middle aged deaths will rise in the medium and long term. $5?

    Hello, Stephen. I find myself too much in agreement with you here to be able to take you up on that bet; but we both await the outcomes of the upcoming US elections with concern.

    I do not use Twitter and Facebook or any other media of that sort. I do have a telephone, and even a cellphone (kept only in case of emergency). I have got rid of the television-set, having found the programming too inane to merit such a device taking up space in the living-room. I watch news bulletins and other programmes of interest on line. It actually disturbs me to see almost everyone wherever I go, continuously checking and doing things with their handheld devices and talking on them as though their interaction with that device overrode the common courtesies associated with interaction with people physically present to them. But I will not rant about manners — that would be ill-mannered. I mention all this only to indicate that I am aware of the personal ill effects of social media. I prefer to keep well away from them. You might feel better if you did so too.

    Best wishes in any case.

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  • Hi Cairsley (#6),

    Earl of Wimbledon

    🙂 Nice try but I didn’t choose my Username in order to pretend to be ennobled.

    I chose it for a host of reasons, chiefly, but not exclusively:

    The Member of Parliament for Wimbledon – a religious and right wing type – is also called Stephen: Stephen Hammond (no luck replacing him in Search Engines so far … ) I’ve met him three times. Mr. Hammond is disappointingly nice in person but, then again, the social situations did not provide the right background to ask him searching questions
    William of Ockham is a local hero (Ockham and Wimbledon were both, originally, in the county of Surrey – it’s less than 20 miles, not so far) – so “of Wimbledon” naturally suggested itself …
    My name is Stephen
    I lived at the foot of Wimbledon Hill, i.e. in Wimbledon, at the time I registered (I have since moved 2.5 miles in order to remove the source of one of those stressful middle-age crises I was talking about, the mortgage
    and so on …

    I am extremely fortunate to live in the country that invented the BBC. I therefore still have access to outstanding television because the BBC keeps the commercial media honest as regards quality. Every year the amount of dross has increased, making it increasingly difficult to find the good programming, but it’s there. The TV now spends more time off than on – especially at peak viewing times – and the BBC is constantly threatened

    Social media is completely misnamed. It should, of course, be called Anti-Social Media. The Net – in terms of several sites where it is possible to have a decent conversation, like this one – is my only modern vice. All my other vices are of the ‘biblical’ sort … 😉


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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #7
    Apr 25, 2016 at 10:04 am

    The Member of Parliament for Wimbledon – a religious and right wing type – is also called Stephen: Stephen Hammond (no luck replacing him in Search Engines so far … )

    Perhaps the good people of Wimbleton could take a leaf out of the book of the good people of Hartlepool, and replace him with one of those environmentally useful Wombles!


    Drummond was born 29 November 1973. He gained an HND in business finance and languages at Salford University.[1] Before his election he had played the mascot – ‘H’Angus the Monkey’ – for Hartlepool United F.C.

    (Drummond ran for mayor under his own name, campaigning for “free bananas” for all schoolchildren. He campaigned both at matches, much to the bemusement of opposition fans, and also locally and away from the football pitch.)

    Stuart Drummond was the first and only directly elected mayor of Hartlepool in North East England.[1] He was first elected in 2002, under the guise of H’Angus the Monkey, the town’s football club’s mascot, and was re-elected in 2005[2] and 2009. He was the first elected mayor in Britain to win a third term.[3] He stood down when his term ended in May 2013 after the people of Hartlepool voted to abolish the mayoral system on 15 November 2012.

    Drummond in 2010 was a finalist for the World Mayor prize.

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  • Hi,
    This may sound disrespectful, but the truth is what it is. We have a mental health crisis in America that is masquerading as a gun issue. Two powerful lobbies have combined to change the US landscape.

    First, Insurance companies have bullied and bribed politicians into allowing the closure of a very high percentage of our mental health facilities, especially facilities that housed people long term. They have simply vanished.This is because there is ZERO money in it for the insurance companies. The treatment and housing of mentally ill patients is a minus for the insurance company. I’d argue a necessary minus. They argue that they should not have to fund these places and POOF == They are gone.

    Secondarily, the gun lobby has made it so that guns outnumber citizens. this means that everyone has access to a weapon in their most impulsive, weakest states.

    In this case 1+2 does not equal 3. 1 + 2 equals lots of blood and grief and death and sadness…. Much of which is preventable if our politicians would be people of character. The state of our government is truly sickening.

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  • 10
    Cairsley says:

    To Stephen of Wimbledon #7

    … I didn’t choose my Username in order to pretend to be ennobled.

    Thanks for the background to your choice of username. I like it; it is how a commoner was named in mediaeval times — a given name and, where necessary, a reference to his or her place of origin or residence (depending on circumstances), whereof your local hero William of Ockham serves as a fine example. It was impertinent of me to insert ‘Earl’, but it fitted in so well, the rhythm just right, that I left it there, perhaps as a mark of my regard.

    I lived about a year in West Sussex and traveled to London through Surrey from time to time. Had I known that Ockham was so close by, I would have visited it, just to be able to say that I had visited the parsimonious William’s place of birth. My own place of birth is Hastings in the province of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, so I made a point of visiting Hastings in East Sussex, which is, of course, a historical area because of 1066 and so forth. That was all very interesting to see, but besides that I was glad to visit the town after which my hometown had been named.

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  • 13
    bonnie2 says:

    @ #12 –Ock(h?)am Common

    Ah, the birthplace of razor sharp minds.

    @ #9 – access to a weapon in their most…

    Real quick, I’ve the impression males “go” violently, females less so. Women are generally neat and tidy, even with death (anyone’s).

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  • @ #13 Bonnie
    Agreed. I painted with a rather broad brush, there and had I taken the time to think, I’d have posted a more precise statement regarding guns and gender. So, thanks for adding that, it is true.

    Your post allows me to include a third culprit and that is the ridiculous ease that people have in obtaining dangerous chemicals. If we include “accidental” overdoses on fentanyl, oxycodon, etc…
    These numbers certainly would get even more swelled up.

    We have a total desensitization to prescription meds here in the US. With many meds, you can actually have a “trial” dose sent to you in the mail. And, the ads are barely able to disguise the recreational uses. “If you have an erection lasting for more than four hours….” you’ve got to be goddamn kidding me. ED drugs are supposed to be prescribed to alleviate specific medical conditions. But, here’s a free sample…. have fun kids…….

    Another huge lobby purchasing politics and destroying human beings.

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  • 17
    bonnie2 says:

    @ #16 – third culprit

    Oh yes, and even if they all vanished tomorrow, synthetics are (al)ready to take their place. Kids are hurt by proxy.

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  • @crookedshoes

    It’s not just the gun lobby and America, unfortunately. In my country (and I believe in many bigger countries or “civilizations”) it’s basically the same. The whole society fell ill and deems this as a normal state. After all if the people around you have the same disease you might think it’s normal.
    Erich Fromm wrote books about it decades ago because he saw it back then and the problem is still present today.

    I know it’s just a feeling but I’m quite sure I’m not the only one: The feeling that there will be greater conflicts arising very soon. I mean wars and such and with that a latent fear of having no future.
    This might drive more and more people to suicide, too. I know it’s just speculation but it’s different than, say, fifteen years ago. The conflicts in the middle east, the threat of war, ISIS having reached a new level of barbarism. It’s only a matter of time until Iran will have the bomb and so on…
    There has to happen something, soon and the uncertainty of what it will be really is exhausting and dangerous for your mental health.

    P.S. Sorry for the english, I’m no native speaker.

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    Please do not apologize for your use of language. I have one language and I am barely able to communicate efficiently!!
    You point (although dark dark dark) is certainly “on the mark”. You’ve articulated a very subtle nuance of this issue. Very cool food for thought. Thanks, I feel like you’ve raised my awareness.

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