A report published yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that, every 15 minutes an individual in the U.S. dies as a result of suicide. In addition it was revealed that for each individual who dies, several others are contemplating, planing or attempting suicide. In Utah, around 1 in 15 ( 6.8%) adults have serious thoughts of suicide compared to 1 in 50 (2.1%) adults in Georgia. The range for attempting suicide goes from 1 in 67 (1.5%) adults in Rhode Island to 1 in 1,000 adults in Georgia and Delaware (0.1%). This is the first report to expose state-level data regarding suicidal thoughts and behavior among adult individuals in the country.

Thomas M. Frieden, M.D. Director of CDC, explained:

“Suicide is a tragedy for individuals, families, and communities. This report highlights that we have opportunities to intervene before someone dies by suicide. We can identify risks that take action before a suicide attempt takes place.

Most people are uncomfortable talking about suicide, but this is not a problem to shroud in secrecy. We need to work together to raise awareness about suicide and learn more about interventions that work to prevent this public health problem.”

2008-2009 data obtained from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) was analyzed by the CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Pam Hyde, Administrator at SAMHSA said:

“Suicide is a preventable tragedy. With this new data we will be able to work more effectively to reach people at risk and help keep them safe. For people in need, help is always available by calling 1-800-273-TALK/8255.”

Findings from the data include:

  • In the past year, over 2.2 million adults (1.0%) reported making suicide plans. These figures ranged from 2.8% in Rhode Island and 0.1% in Georgia.
  • The prevalence of serious suicidal thoughts, planning or attempts were considerably higher among individuals aged between 18 to 29 years compared to those 30 years or older.
  • In the past year, over 1 million adult individuals (0.5%) reported that they attempted suicide. These figures ranged from 1.5% in Rhode Island and 0.1% in Georgia and Delaware.
  • Women had a considerably higher frequency of serious suicidal thoughts than men.
  • Western states have consistently higher suicide rates, particularly states, such as Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico located in the Rocky Mountains. The current study looked at nonfatal behavior and discovered that the pattern was mixed: Individuals who lived in the West and Midwest were more likely to have suicide thoughts compared to those in the South and Northeast. Suicide plans were more likely in adults in the Midwest compared to individuals in the South. They also found that by region, suicide attempts did not vary.

Linda C. Degutis, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, explained:

“Multiple factors contribute to risk for suicidal behavior. The variations identified in this report might reflect differences in the frequency of risk factors and the social and economic makeup of the study populations. These differences can influence the types of prevention strategies used in communities and the groups included.”

This investigation highlights how important it is to collect and use local information for prevention purposes. Continued observation is required in order to develop, implement, and analyze public health programs and policies that can lead to a reduction in deaths related to suicide thoughts, morbidity and behaviors. Potential prevention strategies include public education campaigns designed to focus on improving recognition of suicide risk, as well as cognitive-behavioral therapy, a more intensive strategy designed for individuals who have a higher risk, such as individuals who have attempted suicide. This therapy helps individual to change the way they think as well as helping them in the way they react to situations.

CDC’s Injury Center works to prevent injuries and violence and their adverse health consequences. For further information regarding suicide prevention, please click here.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Web site.

Listing of evidence-based prevention interventions for suicide

Written by Grace Rattue