Suicide Rate Up 24% Since 1999

Depression

Probably because, along with many of you, I am remembering Prince upon his passing yesterday, the song “1999” floated through my head when I read the CDC’s latest report on suicide rates. For more reason than one, I wouldn’t mind traveling back to 1999 today. Sadly, our rates of death by suicide are up in this country by 24% according to the report that compared suicide rates from 2014 to rates back in 1999. The increase was found across all age groups, beginning at age 10. An increase across the board like this means that we must make our prevention efforts as broadly based as the suicide epidemic. Even though I don’t want us to become de-sensitized to the word “epidemic,” I think this is where two of our current crises that can only be described as such intersect. I’m referring to suicide and the opiate epidemic. Overdose by either heroin or prescription opiates is the method used by many who are seeking to end their battle with chronic physical  and/or emotional pain.

Though men still die by suicide at a higher rate than women, the report showed a 45% increase between 1999 and 2014 for women who die by suicide. This is something that I saw when I worked on our Admissions team in 2011: more women using more lethal means such as hanging or firearms. This results in a much higher completion rate of suicide than an attempt to overdose on pills.

The CDC will be focusing, however, on middle aged males. This is a very difficult group to reach because they will often refuse to see mental health or even general health providers. I think men also see suicide as a very pragmatic solution to a problem, a way to prevent becoming a perceived burden to the family or an escape from a looming financial problem. Suicide is the most preventable cause of death, and we must figure out a way to reach not only men, but everyone that there is hope beyond what they are feeling right now. The research shows that an individual typically does not feel suicidal for a long period of time (anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks), and it is during this time that we can intervene and save a life.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal reach out for help right now, by calling, 800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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