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Increase in Suicides Highlights Need for Comprehensive Prevention Efforts


Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in the U.S. in 2016, and the suicide rate continues to rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In more than half the states, suicide rates have increased more than 30 percent since 1999, and the overall U.S. rate of suicide has increased every year since 2006.

Suicide affects people of all ages; it is now the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S. Firearms are the most common method of suicide (used in about half of all suicides). Men are more than three times more likely than women to die by suicide. More than one in five people who died by suicide had expressed their suicide intent.

The CDC report highlights the complexity of suicide. While a mental health condition may be a contributing factor for many people, the report notes that “many factors contribute to suicide among those with and without known mental health conditions.” Relationship problem was the top factor followed by crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks and problematic substance use.

CDC found that about half, 54 percent, of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. However, more may have been dealing with mental health challenges that had not been diagnosed or known to those around them. suicide-rates-by-state.png

“Suicide is a critical issue for all of us who work in health care,” said American Psychiatric Association (APA) President Altha Stewart, M.D. “The CDC’s report highlights the need for access to mental health care. We know from other research that most people who die by suicide have mental health conditions, though they may not have been formally diagnosed or treated."

CDC report recommends a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention and it identifies several strategies states and communities can undertake, including such measures as teaching coping and problem-solving skills to help people manage challenges, expanding options for temporary assistance for those in need and connecting people at-risk to effective and coordinated mental and physical health care.

What You Can Do

Five tips from CDC for what you can do if you’re concerned about a friend or loved one:

  • Ask someone you are worried about if they’re thinking about suicide.
  • Keep them safe. Reduce access to lethal means for those at risk.
  • Be there with them. Listen to what they need.
  • Help them connect with ongoing support.
  • Stay connected. Follow up to see how they’re doing

“People should know that suicide is preventable. Anyone contemplating suicide should know that help is available, and that there is no shame in seeking care for your mental health,” Stewart said. 

If you need help for yourself or someone else, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255) or chat online at

Learn more and find resources at Be the one to save a life. You can do something to prevent suicide.

Learn more about the Warning Signs of Serious Mental Illness

Stone, et al. Vital Signs: Trends in State Suicide Rates – United States, 1999-2016 and Circumstances Contributing to Suicide – 27 States, 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 8, 2018. Vol.67, No.22. Fact Sheet: Suicide Rising Across the U.S..


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