What Are 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. In 2013, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death among all Americans. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the rate of suicide was the highest it had been in 25 years. The annual suicide rate in the U.S. is 12.93 per 100,000.

What Are Suicide Rates?
The suicide rate is the number of completed suicides (those that result in death; attempted suicide is not counted in the suicide rate) per 100,000 people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gathers data from hospitals on cases of self-harm and of suicide each year. Data covers all age groups and demographics. However, the number is considered by some to be low, and that the stigma still surrounding suicide results in underreporting.

Suicide Rate Statistic Breakdowns
When the suicide rate is broken down by demographics, we learn important information. For example:

  • 3.5 - 4 percent more males die to suicide than females.
  • Suicide is attempted 3 times as often by females.
  • The suicide rate is highest among middle aged white males.
  • Among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, suicide is the 8th leading cause of death across all ages. For the age group 15 - 34 of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, suicide jumps to the 2nd leading cause of death.

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
65 and older17th

Suicide is expensive—costly not only in the emotional toll it takes, but also for it's real financial impact. It is estimated that each year the estimated medical costs and work lost is $51 billion.

Depression and Suicide
Depression and suicide are linked, but a study by the Mayo Clinic in 2000 found that the number of people suffering from depression who commit suicide is not as high as originally thought.


Prior to the study, it was believed that as many as 15 percent of people diagnosed with depression committed suicide; however, after analyzing suicide studies over a 30 year time period, Mayo Clinic researchers found that the rate of suicide among depression patients was lower, between 2 and 9 percent.

The difference in these numbers is due to the methods used for calculating the statistics and because of a change in how depression has been defined. Depression in 1970, for example, only accounted for those patients with serious mental illnesses that were diagnosed with depression (such as manic depression). The definition has expanded today and includes those with mild to moderate symptoms who can be treated with therapy and medication. 

Depression and Suicide Warning Signs
There are warning signs you can watch for in hose 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."

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