The recent suicides of fashion and food stars Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain has shined a light suicide. Nearly 45,000 suicides occurred in the United States in 2016 — more than twice the number of homicides — making it the 10th leading cause of death. Among people ages 15 to 34, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
Suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen across age, gender, race, and ethnicity, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In more than half of all deaths in 27 states, the individuals had no known mental health condition when they took their own life.
Suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016. Mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but suicide is rarely caused by any single factor. Many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Other problems often contribute to suicide, such as those related to relationships, substance use, physical health, and job, money, legal, or housing stress.
“The data are disturbing,” said Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director. “The widespread nature of the increase, in every state but one, really suggests that this is a national problem hitting most communities.”
It is hitting many places especially hard. In half of the states, suicide among people 10 years and older increased more than 30 percent.
Among the stark numbers in the CDC report was the one signaling a high number of suicides among people without a known mental health condition. In the 27 states that use the National Violent Death Reporting System, 54 percent of suicides were by individuals without a known mental illness.
“When you do a psychological autopsy and go and look carefully at medical records and talk to family members of the victims,” he said, “90 percent will have evidence of a mental health condition.” That indicates a large portion wasn’t diagnosed, “which suggests to me that they’re not getting the help they need.” –Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.