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Suicide rates rising sharply, with baby boomers having the biggest rate increase and highest rate

Suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state. In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide, according to a Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of three leading causes that are on the rise.

While suicide rates rose across age groups, people ages 45-64 had the biggest rate increase, the CDC said. That age group also had the highest rate. People ages 10-24 had the lowest rate.

Suicide is rarely caused by a single factor, said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D.

“Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans – and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country,” said Schuchat. “From individuals and communities to employers and healthcare professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse this troubling rise in suicide.”

Many factors contribute to suicide

CDC researchers looked at state-level trends in suicide rates from 1999-2016 for the Vital Signs report. In addition, they used 2015 data from CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System, which covered 27 states.

Researchers found that more than half of people who died by suicide didn’t have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Relationship problems or loss; substance misuse; physical health problems; and job, money, legal, or housing stress often contributed to the risk for suicide. Firearms were the most common method of suicide used by those with and without a known diagnosed mental health condition.

State suicide rates vary widely


The most recent overall suicide rates for  2014-2016 varied from 6.9 per 100,000 residents per year in Washington, D.C. to 29.2 per 100,000 residents in Montana.

From 1999-2016, rates increased in nearly all states. Percentage increases in suicide rates ranged from under 6 percent in Delaware to more than 57 percent in North Dakota. Twenty-five states had suicide rate increases of more than 30 percent.

Wide range of prevention activities needed

The report recommends that states take a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention and address the range of factors contributing to suicide and that there be coordination among government, public health, healthcare, employers, education, media, and community organizations.

To help states, in 2017 CDC released a technical package on suicide prevention that describes strategies and approaches based on the best available evidence.

The CDC said everyone can help prevent suicide:

  • Learn the warning signs of suicide to identify and appropriately respond to people at risk.
  • Find out how this can save a life by visiting:
  • Reduce access to lethal methods of death – such as medications and firearms – among people at risk of suicide.
  • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


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Typical of the CDC to place the responsibility on individuals rather the then calling for communities, from local to state to federal level groups & gov't to make it easy AND affordable for people to find good quality mental health care. Terrump & his allies are doing the opposite, as you've documented (opposition to capping interest rates for pay day lenders, et al) all the ways in which Terrump & his Congressional allies are working to make life far far more stressful for as many non-wealthy people as possible in the US.

But, for Terrump admin's CDC, it's just not to be mentioned.

At that, Terrump & his allies are the culmination of years of union-busting, propaganda re: how many enemies are out there (in your neighborhood, in your state, in the US and outside the US) along w/regressive state & federal income tax structures, and massive propaganda re: taking on consumer debt. To keep up "with the Joneses", whatever the reason, managing to stay on top of debt yet keep spending more (and staying glued to one's smart phone--which "has" to be upgraded every year) has become an approved way of life while hiding (in plain sight) how many working and middle class people in the US have seen their real income decline since the 1970's.

That and politicians' (and the NRA's) use of fear to gain power--since the Cold War period. Bush II, Cheney, Inc., are the latest & best examples of using fear to justify incredibly stupid, risky, wasteful (lives, property & money) military invasions. That haven't accomplished anything but to destroy millions of lives, a museum with many irreplaceable artifacts, probably 2 cities, and made some defense contractors alot more profitable (so their CEOs, et al probably got more bonuse,etc.). Not that either Afghanistan or Iraq is a safer, fairer, "freer" place or even that the Taliban are gone.

Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski

It's a huge issue for Baby Boomers and something to take seriously. Look for signs and don't be afraid to call for help


Sadly, the suicide rate is also increasing among female veterans at a much higher rate than male veterans. One of my friends is a psychologist who feels that a mental health check-up should be something that people do every year much like a physical. If we were doing a yearly mental health checkup when we're fine, then we'd be much more likely to reach out for help when things were not fine.


Thanks for your comments azure, Rebecca, and Jennifer.

Yes Rebecca, suicide is a big issue for baby boomers. Looking for signs and not being afraid to call for help are good tips.

Jennifer, your idea of annual mental health check-ups is great. I'd like to see that be adopted as public policy and paid for by insurance companies.

Yes azure, consumers have under assault from the corporate interests for decades. I don't know how corporations think we can just keep paying and paying for everything when salaries aren't increasing and government programs are being cut.


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