The statistics are staggering – approximately 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year. That’s nearly one death every 40 seconds. Suicide has become the 2nd leading cause of death in for those 15 to 24 years.
Every year, many more people think about or attempt suicide than die by suicide. The rate of suicide in the U.S. has increased 35% since 1999. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 10.7 million American adults seriously contemplated suicide in 2018, 3.3 million made a plan for suicide, and 1.4 million attempted suicide.
Contributing Risk Factors of Suicide
In recent years, rising suicide rates have contributed to a falling life expectancy in the U.S. While it’s not clear exactly why the rate has climbed, health experts say believe isolation, poor family relationships, as well as alcohol and substance misuse are contributing risk factors to what is being labeled a national epidemic.
Suicide and a World in Crisis
Increased suicides rates have been linked in connection with major crises. A global pandemic, political unrest, the state of race relations, financial instability, job loss and global warming all add to stressors that can contribute to suicidal thoughts.
Suicide Impacts All Age Groups
The CDC also reports that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for people from 35 to 54 years old, and the eighth leading cause of death for people from 55 to 64 years old. It’s becoming clear that older people are at greater risk. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) attributes this increase to specific stress factors and medical conditions among seniors.
Certain Groups Experience Higher Rates of Suicide
Suicide rates vary by age, by gender, by race, by profession, by socioeconomic circumstances and more. Of all racial and ethnic groups, Native American show the sharpest increase in suicide – with rates rising by 89% for women and 38% for men. The overall death rate from suicide for American Indian/Alaska Native adults is about 20 percent higher as compared to the non-Hispanic white adults.
An ethnic breakdown based on suicide deaths per 100,000 individuals:
- Caucasians: 18.15
- Asian/Pacific Islanders: 7.00
- African Americans: 6.35
- Hispanics: 6.38
- American Indians/Alaska Natives: 21.39
Suicide Rates Vary by Gender
The risk of suicide is much higher among men than women of all age groups – with men comprising almost two-thirds of worldwide suicides.
White males accounted for 69.67% of suicide deaths in the U.S. in 2018. But according to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are more likely to attempt suicide.
Women ages 45 to 64 years old had highest suicide rate in 2017.
While men, age 75 and older, experienced the highest rate of suicide.
LBGTQ youth are at greater risk as well. In fact, LGBTQ youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to attempted suicide as their peers who reported no rejection or a low level of rejection from their family.
A Military Connection to Suicide
Veterans and other military personnel experience disproportionately higher rates of suicide as well – and these rates are rising. According to the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report , in 2017 alone, 6,139 U.S. veterans died by suicide. A study by Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine reports that combat veterans not only experience higher instances of suicidal ideation (often associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression), they are more also likely to act upon a suicide plan.
Certain Occupations Experience Higher Suicide Rates
Manual laborers like construction workers, who tend to work in isolation and live with unsteady employment, show the highest rate of suicide. The CDC also found that farmers, lumberjacks and fishermen experienced high rates of suicide. Dentists, doctors and other health care professionals had an alarmingly lower suicide rate than manual laborers. But those who work in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media also experience somewhat higher rates of suicide. Jobs that report the lowest rate of suicide include teachers and librarians.
Suicide Leaves a Lasting Affect
Suicide is a serious public health problem that has a harmful affect – even on those left behind. Every person who dies by suicide leaves behind an estimated 6 or more survivors. They are left not only grieving the loss of a loved one, they feel a sense of guilt for not taking action they believe may have worked to prevent the suicide. Survivors of suicide loss may experience high levels of trauma that often goes undiagnosed and untreated – leaving them feeling isolated, as if they are facing this tragedy alone.
Coleman offers support for family and friends of those who have died by suicide. Contact us to learn about counseling in the wake of a loved one’s death, support groups, how to donate in memory of an individual, and more.
End the Suicide Stigma
The best way to be an ally begins with being educated about the warning signs and the way you talk about suicide. The phrase “committed suicide” has its origin in a culture that has viewed suicide as a “sin” or perceived “moral shortfall.”
We need to affirm that it’s okay to be deeply sad. And it’s okay to reach out for help. Depression can warp our sense of self and personal value. And it clouds our ability to anticipate a brighter future.
When Someone is in Crisis, Take Action.
If you are struggling with depression and substance use, Coleman Professional Services can help. If you are struggling from the loss of a friend or family member to suicide, we want to listen.