Rates of suicide in the US have risen almost steadily between 1999-2014, with the greatest percentage increases occurring among girls aged 10-14 and men aged 45-64 years of age, says a new federal analysis.

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The suicide rate is more than three times higher for men than for women in the US.

The recently published Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report says that the rate of suicide in the US is "increasing against the backdrop of generally declining mortality."

The report also states that suicide is one of the ten leading causes of death for each age group from 10-64 years.

According to the CDC, suicide is a significant problem in the US. During 2013, 41,149 people killed themselves, and nearly half a million people with self-inflicted injuries were treated in emergency departments.

In terms of economic impact, suicides cost the nation an estimated $44.6 billion in combined medical and work loss costs.

However, the CDC say these figures are likely to be an underestimate of the true problem, as many people who have suicidal thoughts or attempt to kill themselves never seek professional help.

The new CDC report notes that:

  • In 1999, the age-adjusted rate of suicide was 10.5 per 100,000 of the population
  • In 2014, it was 13.0, representing an overall rise of 24%
  • The rate increased by 1% per year from 1999-2006, and then doubled to 2% after that
  • Increases were seen in all age groups for men and women apart from those aged 75 and over
  • The biggest rises occurred in females aged 10-14 and males aged 45-64 years
  • The suicide rate is more than three times higher for men than for women (20.7 compared with 5.8 per 100,000 in 2014)
  • However, the gender gap in US suicide rates has narrowed slightly; the ratio of male to female suicide rates reduced from 4.5 to 3.6 during 1999-2014.

Methods of suicide are changing

The report also examines methods of suicide. In 2014, poisoning was the most common method used by women (34.1%), while firearms were the most frequent method used by men (55.4%).

The percentage of suicides involving firearms and poisoning fell over 1999-2014. Suicides involving suffocation have increased for both men and women during this time (up to around 25% in 2014).

In 2014, the most frequent "other" suicide methods for females were falls (2.8%) and drowning (1.4%). For males, it was falls (2.2%) and cutting or piercing (1.9%).

The CDC have previously identified a number of factors that can raise people's risk of suicide. However, they point out that having these factors does not necessarily mean people will attempt suicide. The factors include:

  • A previous attempt at suicide
  • Family history of suicide or violence
  • History of depression, other mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse
  • Physical illness
  • Feelings of loneliness.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center offers information and advice about preventing suicide and other forms of violence.

Meanwhile, Medical News Today has recently learned that concussion could triple or quadruple the risk of suicide, while in an earlier report on symptoms of suicide risk for people with depression, MNT describes how researchers found that behavior patterns such as risky behavior, psychomotor agitation and impulsivity occurred before 50% of suicide attempts.