CDC Grand Rounds: Preventing Suicide Through a Comprehensive Public Health Approach

Date: October 5, 2016   By: Fe Anam Avis

Suicide in the United States is a major public health problem with approximately 42,000 reported suicides in 2014 among persons aged >10 years (1). The overall suicide rate is increasing, with a 27% increase from 2000 (12.1 per 100,000 population) to 2014 (15.4 per 100,000) (Figure 1). Males, youths and young adults, and certain racial/ethnic groups have historically had higher rates of suicide. In 2014, suicide rates were approximately four times higher among males (24.3 per 100,000) than females (6.8 per 100,000), and suicide was the second leading cause of death among youths and young adults aged 10–34 years (1). Among persons aged 10–24 years, the 2014 suicide rate among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Natives was 20.2 per 100,000, 1.9 times higher than non-Hispanic whites (10.5 per 100,000), 3.5 times higher than non-Hispanic blacks (5.8 per 100,000), and 3.7 times higher than Hispanics (5.5 per 100,000) (1). Adults aged 35–64 years are an emerging group at risk, with suicide rates increasing 33% since 2000 and accounting for the largest proportion of suicides (1).

Suicide data severely underestimate the extent of the problem, with many more persons experiencing suicidal thoughts and making suicide plans and nonfatal suicide attempts. For example, among adults aged >18 years in 2014, for every one adult who died by suicide there were nine adults treated in hospital emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries, 27 who reported making a suicide attempt, and 227 who reported seriously considering suicide (Figure 2). Self-reports by youths also have shown a high prevalence of suicide risk behaviors. According to CDC’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 17.7% of students in grades 9–12 reported seriously considering suicide, and 8.6% reported attempting suicide during the 12 months before the survey (2). The percentages of students who reported seriously considering suicide and students who reported making a plan for attempting suicide increased significantly during 2009–2015 (2).

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Thank you Steve Scoggin

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