Suicide rates rose 25 percent across the country during the last two decades, according to a recent federal report.
The Centers for Disease Control said more than half of states reported suicides increased more than 30 percent between 1999 and 2016. Rates ranged from a 6 percent rise in Delaware to a 58 increase in North Dakota. Nevada posted a 1 percent decrease. Firearms were used in approximately half of the cases, according to CDC data.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, told CNN statistics suggest the problem is getting worse, noting deaths from suicide, drug overdoses and Alzheimer’s are all on the rise across the country.
“These findings are disturbing,” she said Thursday. “Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the US right now, and it’s one of three causes that is actually increasing recently, so we do consider it a public health problem — and something that is all around us.”
Nearly 45,000 Americans committed suicide in 2016. Some 54 percent had no known mental health condition. Men were three to five times more likely to take their own life compared to women, though researchers noted rates rose for both genders. Veterans comprised 18 percent of cases and the CDC estimates the risk for suicide increases 10 percent with military service. Middle-aged adults, however, represented the biggest rise in suicides, according to researchers.
“We think a key message is, there’s not just one group; many are at risk,” Schuchat said.
The CDC determined several factors contribute to suicide, including relationship problems, recent or upcoming crisis, problematic substance abuse and physical health problems. Occasionally economic factors, such as job loss or homelessness, play a role.
Dr. Sandro Galea, dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, told CNN the data — gleaned from the National Vital Statistics System — presents “alarming” findings.
“The paper makes a clear case, correctly, about the fact that there is no one cause for suicide,” he said. “A lot of suicide is a one-time effort, so having guns available, for example, makes one more likely to complete suicide, but that in and of itself is not an explanation for why suicide is going up.”