CDC: US Suicide Rate Has Risen 30% Since 1999

By Bryan Le 06/11/18

The Centers for Disease Control also found that only half of people who died by suicide had been diagnosed with a mental health issue.

depressed man with head in his hands
Suicide rates have increased virtually across the board in the US.

A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that suicide rates have risen by 30% across the United States since 1999.

The report, released Thursday, made another surprising revelation: only half of those who took their own life were diagnosed with a mental health condition. This goes against the commonly-held belief that depression is the main cause of suicide.

The CDC reports that other leading contributors to suicide besides mental illness include struggles in relationships, finances, and substance abuse.

“Suicide rates in the United States have risen nearly 30% since 1999, and mental health conditions are one of several factors contributing to suicide,” wrote CDC researchers in the report. “From 1999 to 2015, suicide rates increased among both sexes, all racial/ethnic groups, and all urbanization levels.”

The heavily covered tragic suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain reflect the increasing risk of suicide by Americans in their age bracket.

Middle-aged adults had the largest number of suicides and a particularly high increase in suicide rates. These findings are disturbing,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director at the CDC.

The only age group that did not see an increase in suicide rates were those over the age of 75. The increase in suicide rate was otherwise seen across the board, culminating in nearly 45,000 deaths by suicide in 2016.

“What we tried to do in this study was look at the state level at trends over time,” explained Dr. Schuchat. “Unfortunately, the suicide rates went up more than 30% in half of the states.”

The only state that did not have an increase in suicide rate was Nevada, but that state has experienced a historically high suicide rate as is.

“A key thing that we focused on was looking at individuals who committed suicide, comparing those with mental health diagnoses with those who didn’t,” said Dr. Schuchat. “More than half of all the individuals who committed suicide had no mental health diagnoses.”

While these rates seem bleak, Dr. Schuchat believes it’s possible to turn the situation around.

“I have learned that it is important to talk about survivor stories. We know that suicide is preventable,” Schuchat said. “We are in a different era right now, with social media increased and also social isolation is high… We think helping overcome the isolation can improve the connectedness.”

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter