The Grapevine

US Suicide Rates Reach All-Time High Since World War II

Suicide rates in the United States are at their highest since World War II and female suicide rates are rising more rapidly than those involving men, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Already a public health crisis, suicide before this latest data from CDC was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. The causes of this horrific spike in the number of Americans are varied but all point to the need for urgent action at the federal and local levels to stem this epidemic that will only worsen over time.

CDC said 14 out of every 100,000 Americans died by suicide in 2017. That’s a 33 percent increase since 1999 and is the highest age-adjusted suicide rate recorded in the U.S. since 1942. Equally disturbing is that for every successful suicide, there were 25 other unsuccessful ones.

The U.S. suicide rate was at its highest during the Great Depression that started in 1929. It reached a century high of 21.9 for every 100,000 Americans in 1932.

“I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits all reason” since there’s almost never a single cause of suicide, said Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a nonprofit that supports suicide prevention research, education and policy.

“I don’t think there’s something you can pinpoint, but I do think a period of increased stress and a lack of a sense of security may be contributing.”

A new and troubling statistic is that more and more American women are committing suicide. The female suicide rate is rising more quickly. It’s risen 53 percent since 1999 compared to 26 percent for men. The male suicide rate in 2017 was more than three times higher than the female rate, however.

Non-white and disadvantaged Americans commit the most suicides. Suicide rates among women and men are highest among Native Americans and Native Alaskans compared to other ethnicities. Native Americans have long been considered at risk of committing suicide.

By far, they’re the most impoverished of racial groups and have to deal with rampant alcoholism and sexual assaults. Their healthcare system remains woefully underfunded.

“As a result of historical trauma, chronically underfunded federal programs, and broken promises on the part of the U.S. government,” Native Americans have high suicide rates, said the Center for Native American Youth.

By age group, the most suicide deaths are reported among people ages 45 to 64 in all ethnicities.

Suicides among teenagers and younger people are also on the rise. Youth suicide rates among boys and girls ages 10 to 14 are rising faster than in any other age group. Youth suicide rates are at their highest point since at least 2000, according to JAMA.

The JAMA report doesn’t identify causes of the rise in youth suicides. It does, however, point a finger at opioid abuse and social media bullying as the probable causes for this spike in youth suicides.

Suicide More women aged 10-14 committed suicide this year. Hasty Words/Pixabay

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