Suicide Rates In The United States Are Increasing For 13 Years In A Row, Up 40%.

Over the last few years it is a grim fact that nearly everyone in the United States knows someone who has committed suicide, from Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to close family members. These rates are increasing.

Suicide is a Leading Cause of Death in the United States

More than 48,000 Americans had taken their own lives in 2018, equivalent to 14.2 deaths per 100,000 population, reported by the CDC.

  • Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States.
  • Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.

Life expectancy in 2017 fell to an average of 78.6 years for the total U.S. population, down from 78.7 years in 2016. A fact to which, “Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement. “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.” suicide became the second-leading cause of death for ages 10–34 and the fourth-leading cause for ages 35–54.

“The ten leading causes overall accounted for about 74% of all deaths in the united states. We saw declines in six of the ten leading causes of death and increases for two. The others didn’t change significantly. The notable ones here are unintentional injuries which declined after increasing for almost a decade. The increases and the decrease that we saw were largely driven by increases and a decrease in drug overdose mortality, which we’ll talk about in a minute, and suicide mortality continued to increase. It’s been increasing since the year 2000 and what we see today at 14.2 deaths per 100,000 population is the largest death rate since 1941,” Dr. Robert Anderson on a recent CDC briefing call.

These increased rates are concerning, to get the bottom of this recent research reveals the following:

  • Suicide rates were shown to be increasing most rapidly in rural areas, although all county types saw increases during the period studied.
  • Social capital being associated with decreased suicide rates.
  • An increase in suicide rates was associated with rural residence, higher deprivation, higher social fragmentation, higher density of gun shops, and a higher percentage of county residents who were veterans and who were uninsured.
  • Increasing social connectedness, civic opportunities, health insurance coverage, and limiting access to lethal means within communities have the potential to reduce suicide rates across the rural-urban continuum.
  • Suicide rates in rural counties are especially susceptible to deprivation, suggesting that rural counties present special challenges and deserve targeted suicide prevention efforts.

Suicide in America is dominated by white men, who account for 70 percent of all cases.

Men died by suicide three and a half times more often than women and accounted for nearly 70 percent of suicide deaths in 2017. White females and white males face the second high rates of suicide, males (28.2 per 100,000) and females (7.9 per 100,000). The rates of suicide were highest for American Indian/Alaska Native males (33.6 per 100,000) and females (11.0 per 100,000). These figures are based on percent of population while the national population, the burden faced by white males is staggering. To put this in perspective, there were more than twice as many suicides per year (47,173) in the United States than homicides (19,510).

This new data backs up earlier research that shows, easy access to guns increase suicide. This new research shows nearby gun shops increase suicide rates. Individuals can act on these facts by implementing one effective suicide prevention strategy called removal: putting locks on guns, medicine cabinets and drawers containing knives. Other factors associated with suicide rates are not suprising, lower levels of education, employment and higher levels of poverty. Loneliness further places a factor.

Years of Calls to Action

This trajectory was shown 18 years ago and the Department of Health and Human Services issued a call to action in 2010 to address this. In 2001 the Federal government launched a National Strategy for Suicide prevention. The United Nations/World Health Organization issued the 1996 prepared the Prevention of Suicide: Guidelines for the Formulation and Implementation of National Strategies (UN/WHO, 1996); the 105th Congress declared suicide prevention to be a national priority through passage of Senate Resolution 84 and House Resolution 212.

What’s confusing about this trend is that social stigma against mental illness is at an all time low. Only 33% of teenage boys with depression received any treatment and 45% of teenage girls did in 2019

Despite some public skepticism, there are effective interventions for depression, both medication and therapies. We need to better identify and reach at-risks youths, empower them to make the decisions to find care, and offer further safety nets for those who struggle.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, trouble getting starting activities, and feeling low, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of additional resources.

Sean Howell is a principal investigator of the UN Global LGBT Happiness and Mental Health Study. He is a tech entrepreneur and global health leader; he founded Hornet, where he built a 30 million-user gay social network. He serves as CEO at the LGBT Foundation, which works to leverage the benefits of blockchain technology for the empowerment of the LGBT community. He helps many organizations leverage technology to expand their impact; serves on various nonprofit boards and committees including Mpact (MSMGF), UNAIDS, E-CDC, PFLAG and co-chair at the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at John Hopkins; and is a founding member of the UN Global Coalition for HIV Prevention and technical advisor to UNDPs and the World Bank LGBTI Index, as well as chair of Tech4Hiv, the private sector alliance which includes MSFT, Google, and IBM.

Using technology to fight for equality for all, co-founder & @LGBT_Token @Hornet @JohnsHopkinsSPH @buffalomarketco

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store