Suicide is a serious public health concern in the United States. Our suicide rate is one of the highest among wealthy nations. In the year 2020, there will be 45,799 suicides, compared to 42,773 in 2014.
Statistics on suicide in the United States
In the United States, 0.5% of adults age 18 and over report attempting suicide during the past year, compared with 1.9 percent for young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. This statistic is particularly troubling for young adults of color and Hispanics, who have higher rates of depression than other ethnic groups. The CDC WISQARS Fatal Injury Data Visualization Tool is a great resource for comparing suicide rates across states.
While white male youth have lower suicide rates than Asian or Pacific Islander youth, the rate for Black youth has increased by nearly 40% over the last decade. The rates for American Indian or Alaska Native youth are also higher than those for other ethnic groups. In 2014, the rate for male youth was nearly three times that of White adolescents and young adults. For Asian and Pacific Islander individuals, the rate of suicide increased by about a third.
Methods of completing suicide
Among the many methods of completing suicide in the USA, hanging is the most common. Statistics show that the rates of suicide fall with age; 55% of 15 to 39-year-olds commit suicide by hanging, compared to 30% of 60-plus-year-olds. In the USA, suicide rates by firearm also decrease with age, but they are still very high. The most common method used by 15 to 39-year-olds is hanging, followed by firearms and drugs.
The methods of completing suicide vary according to gender, but men are more likely to attempt lethal methods than women. Suicide attempts by men are more likely to result in a death, and they require more intensive care than suicide attempts by women. In addition, males are more likely to use firearms and jump from a height. However, this does not mean that women deliberately use less lethal methods. In addition, studies of suicide attempts by women show that their methods differ.
Many risk factors increase a person’s chances of suicide. These factors include genetics, psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, family and social situations, and access to lethal means. Among immigrants, a person’s risk of suicide increases if he or she grew up in a home where guns are common. Other risk factors include the death of a loved one or pet. Suicide rates are higher in men than in women, although these differences are not large.
Other risk factors include family problems, social isolation, and childhood sexual abuse. In addition, a person’s social circle is important for lowering their risk of suicide. A loved one’s death, divorce, or other significant change can also increase a person’s risk of suicide. Social interactions with family and friends, particularly with nonfamily members, reduce the risk of suicide. Although social interactions with friends and family are crucial, they are not sufficient in themselves to prevent a suicide attempt.
A recent study has evaluated how media coverage of suicide in the USA affects the risk of suicide among teenagers and adults. It found that suicide stories in national and regional newspapers were significantly more likely to be reported than stories of suicide in local papers. The study’s findings were interpreted in light of contextual factors, such as 9/11/2001, which was a major political/news event. In addition, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were also ongoing during the time period, which did not completely remove suicide media effects.
While media coverage of suicide has increased in recent years, the New York Times has been especially interested in the topic. It has undertaken an evaluation of suicide reporting in the USA based on guidelines published by the CDC in 1994. The study evaluated three years’ worth of suicide stories in The New York Times, identifying problematic reporting practices. Findings from the study informed the development of media guidelines in 2001. Among the study’s key findings were the frequent use of the word “suicide” in headlines and the omission of other mental disorders.