In February 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published data from a 2020 report on suicide. The information included an alarming statistic: suicide is currently the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S. Additionally, for the study period of 2000–2020, the suicide rate increased by 30 percent. Suicide prevention awareness campaigns are mobilizing to address this worldwide problem.
Certain Populations More at Risk
The CDC’s report includes additional details:
- Suicide rates for men are nearly four times higher than for women.
- Age demographics have shifted significantly for both men and women:
- “For males, suicide rates in the 45–64 and 65–74 age groups declined recently, while rates among the 10–14, 15–24, and 75 and over age groups have generally increased.
- “For females, rates for age groups 10–14 and 15–24 generally increased, while rates declined recently for the 25–44, 45–64, 65–74, and 75 and over age groups.”
- Firearm-related suicide is still more prevalent than other means.
In April 2022, the Annual Review of Public Health reported research that stated:
- While suicide rates declined slightly for White Americans, they increased or remained the same for people of color. “Non-Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) persons have the highest race/ethnicity-specific suicide mortality rates in the U.S.”
- Rates have also increased in 1 out of every 3 states, “including several states where rates were already among the highest nationally, such as Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and South Dakota.”
- “There are limited surveillance data on the suicide rate among sexual and gender minoritized groups in the general U.S. population.” Unfortunately, rates are high for addiction, mental health, and suicidal behavior among members of the LGBTQ (AI+) community.
- Suicide rates of veterans and members of the military have also increased. “The suicide rate in Active Component members increased from 20.4 to 25.9 suicide cases per 100,000 service members.”
“Reducing suicide mortality risk in the United States is a largely unmet public health need with a far-reaching and long-lasting impact that is increasing among vulnerable and minoritized population groups,” the report concluded.
Risk Factors and Warning Signs of Suicide
Sadly, there isn’t a single cause of suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). However, the organization notes that depression—especially when undiagnosed or not properly treated—is a contributing risk factor. “Conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide.”
AFSP points to additional warning signs, including:
- Other mental and emotional health issues, as well as struggles with physical ailments and chronic pain
- Traumatic brain injuries
- PTSD, grief, and trauma
- Adverse childhood experiences
- Previous suicidal ideation or attempts
- Witnessing another person’s suicide
- A family history of suicide
- “Access to lethal means, including firearms and drugs”
Prolonged and stressful events contribute to feelings of hopelessness and despair, too, such as:
- Financial troubles
- Relationship problems and divorce
Warning signs include, but aren’t limited to:
- Frequent talk about suicide, being a burden, feeling hopeless or trapped, or extreme pain
- Intense use of substances
- Searching for or inquiring about suicide methods
- Loss of interest in activities, family, and friends, and even withdrawing from those safety nets
- Extreme fatigue
- Giving away possessions and saying goodbye to people
Fortunately, a growing wave of awareness and access to protective factors means people can get the attention they deserve before it’s too late.
Steps for Suicide Prevention and Awareness
Certain protective factors help reduce the threat of suicide. As you might imagine, having immediate and thorough mental health care is essential. AFSP also indicates that:
- Fostering connection to family, friends, and community helps people recognize their quality of life.
- Building self-esteem, improving problem-solving skills, and learning new coping mechanisms also play a large part in a person’s outlook.
- Receiving cultural and spiritual support helps reinforce a sense of purpose and portals to assistance when feeling lost or alone.
In 2020, the U.S. Congress implemented the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which created the three-digit emergency lifeline of 988. This lifeline, now available in all 50 states, provides access to trained counselors and increases opportunities for interventions and resources.
If you or someone you know needs help today, it’s available 24/7 for free through these services:
- Call 988 from any phone for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Text “HELLO” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741
- The Veterans Crisis Line is now 988, then press 1, or use the chat function, even if you’re not enrolled in VA benefits or are currently stationed overseas
- Visit AFSP to get help if you’re having thoughts of suicide, have survived an attempt, you’re worried about someone, have lost someone to suicide
Here’s what happens when you reach out through 988 or to the Crisis Text Line.
Additionally, the International Association for Suicide Prevention designated September 10 as World Suicide Prevention Day because “to prevent suicide requires us to become a beacon of light to those in pain.” Among the many initiatives, one is to reach out to others who might be in suffering or otherwise not coping well and ask about their well-being and direct them to helpful resources.
Compassionate Mental Health Care at Cottonwood Tucson
If you or someone you care about is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please use the lifelines above for immediate attention. If you need help with mental and emotional health, please talk to a member of our admissions staff to learn how we can be of service.