In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans took their own lives. According to a sobering report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this figure reflects an overall 30 percent increase in the rate of suicides since 1999.
That suicide has reached epidemic status in the US – it is now the 10th leading cause of death – is no secret to public health researchers, as the upward trend has been noted with growing concern for many years. Yet when tasked with examining state-by-state trends in order to inform improved prevention campaigns, the government researchers revealed just how dire the issue has become.
Between 1999 and 2016, the rates of suicide among adult men and women and children over 10 went up in 49 out of 50 states. Nevada, the one exception to the pattern, has had a consistently high rate the entire time.
Twenty-five states across the nation saw rates rise by more than 30 percent, and the Midwest region, in particular, appears to be in crisis – Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Kansas, and Oklahoma each showed increases from 38 to 58 percent. More than 48 percent of all decedents ended their life using a gun.
Hoping to illuminate the characteristics shared by suicide decedents and identify what circumstances may have led them to act, the researchers analyzed all 2015 cases entered in the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System – a database that includes 27 states.
Though this type of data collection will never be able to perfectly capture the complexity of each person’s case, the results indicated that 54 percent of suicides occurred in individuals without known mental health conditions.