Suicide Rates in the U.S.

The suicide rate in the U.S. has risen in recent decades

Caucasian man laying on bed
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Suicides in the U.S. have been on the rise, up 24 percent from 1990 through 2014, and the pace of the increase has been rising since 2006. Suicide has ranked as the 10th leading cause of death among Americans for many years, while homicide does not make the top 10. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the rate of suicide was the highest it had been in 25 years in 2013, and it continued to rise yearly after that.

The annual suicide rate in the U.S. is over 13 deaths per 100,000 population.

The Suicide Rate

The suicide rate is the number of completed suicides per 100,000 people. Attempted suicide is not counted in the suicide rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gathers data from hospitals on cases of self-harm and of suicide each year. They have data for all age groups and demographics. However, the some consider the number to be low because the stigma still surrounding suicide can result in underreporting.

Suicide Rate Statistic Breakdowns

When the suicide rate is broken down by demographics, you learn important information. These statistics have been consistent from 2010 through 2015. For example:

  • 3.5 to 4 percent more males die to suicide than females.
  • Suicide is attempted three times as often by females.
  • The suicide rate is highest among middle-aged white males.
  • Among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death across all ages. For the age group 15 to 34 of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, suicide jumps to the second leading cause of death.

    Suicide statistics by age group have been consistent for several years. Broken down by age group across all racial and ethnic groups, suicide as a leading cause of death ranked as follows:

    Age GroupLeading Cause of Death
    10-14Third 
    15-34Second
    35-44Fourth
    45-54Fifth 
    55-64Eighth
    65 and older17th

    Suicide is expensive—costly not only in the emotional toll it takes but also for its real financial impact.

    The estimated loss is over $50 billion in medical costs and lost work.

    Depression and Suicide

    Depression and suicide are linked, with an estimate that up to 60 percent of people who commit suicide have major depression. However, millions of Americans have depression and this figure doesn't mean most people with depression will attempt suicide. A study by the Mayo Clinic in 2000 found the rate of suicide among patients with depression was between 2 and 9 percent, while older studies using stricter definitions said it was around 15 percent.

    Depression and Suicide Warning Signs

    There are warning signs you can watch for in those who may be at risk of attempting suicide. Though there is no single type of person who may commit suicide, and the symptoms below are not exhaustive, these are the most common signs observed among people who may be contemplating taking their own life.

    • A change in personality, especially behaviors in social situations.
    • Withdrawal from interaction or communication with others.
    • Mood changes that are drastic, such as being very low mood one day to being in a very high mood the next.
    • Triggers such as life crisis or trauma in a person who is already suffering from depression.
    • Threats of suicide, or expressed negative wishes regarding life, such as wishing they'd "never been born."
    • Giving away of cherished belongings to friends and loved ones.
    • Deep depression observed that affects their ability to function socially or in the workplace.
    • Aggressive or risky behaviors, such as high-speed driving.

    Sources:

    Bostwick JM, Pankratz VS. Affective Disorders and Suicide Risk: A Reexamination. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2000;157(12):1925-1932. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.157.12.1925.

    Curtin SC, Warner M, Hedegaard H. Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999-2014. NCHS Data Brief No. 241, April 2016.

    Ng CWM, How CH, Ng YP. Depression in primary care: assessing suicide risk. Singapore Medical Journal. 2017;58(2):72-77. doi:10.11622/smedj.2017006.

    Suicide. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide/index.shtml.

    Understanding Suicide Fact Sheet 2015. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide_factsheet-a.pdf.