Suicide rates are at a new high, for the first time in 50 years. Despite the increased awareness of mental health issues, suicide is now the second leading cause of death for those under 35, and very prevalent among all ages.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a survey that stated about 47,000 Americans took their own lives in 2017. This is 2,000 more deaths than recorded in 2016. As a result, the national suicide rate has increased 33 percent between 1999 and 2017.
Between 1999 and 2006, suicide rates increased about one percent per year. Then, between 2007-2017, the rates increased by two percent every year. Not only is this a significant jump, but there is a clear difference between urban and rural areas in terms of where suicide is occurring.
The CDC survey of 2017 showed that in rural areas there are 20 suicides for every 100,000 people (compared to 13.1 per 100,000 in 1999) where as in urban areas there are 11.1 suicides for every 100,000 people (compared to 9.6 per 100,000 in 1999).
More white, rural Americans are dying from suicide. This is interesting to think about in considering the opioid epidemic also hitting this demographic. However, unless there is solid evidence of intent for suicide, opioid overdoses will be considered accidental death.
In addition, suicide is increasing among all age groups since 1999. Among females, these are the following increases between 1999 and 2017 at each age group:
Ages 10–14 there was an increase from 0.5 to 1.7 deaths per 100,000 people.
Ages 15–24 there was an increase from 3.0 to 5.8 deaths per 100,000 people.
Ages 25–44 there was an increase from 5.5 to 7.8 deaths per 100,000 people.
Ages 45–64 there was an increase from 6.0 to 9.7 deaths per 100,000 people.
Ages 65–74 there was an increase from 4.1 to 6.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
Overall, the survey showed that men were dying more from suicide than women. Many believe this is due to the way we talk about mental health and the heightened stigma around men and mental health issues.
Again, like women, suicide rates were significantly higher for men in 2017 compared with 1999. Here are the increases among the various age groups:
Ages 10–14 there was an increase from 1.9 to 3.3 deaths per 100,000 people.
Ages 15–24 there was an increase from 16.8 to 22.7 deaths per 100,000 people.
Ages 25–44 there was an increase from 21.6 to 27.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
Ages 45–64 there was an increase from 30.8 to 30.1 deaths per 100,000 people.
Ages 65–74 there was an increase from 24.7 to 26.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
In 2014, suicides were carried out mostly by firearms and jumping from bridges, which means stricter gun laws and suicide prevention nets along bridges could have saved thousands of lives. However, suffocation has increased as a form of suicide (From 16.3 percent to 26.2 percent among women and from 19.1 percent to 26.8 percent among men), meaning suicide is more accessible, where as treatment often is not.
As the conversation around mental health grows, so does the need for treatment. There are a number of potential holes in treatment processes that could prevent someone from getting help, such as high insurance costs or location of therapy. As we discuss what students need on campus in terms of improved mental health care, it is important to consider the national levels of suicide as well.
Denison being located in Granville, we are right in the prime area of where suicide is happening most often. It is something to think about as we look for what is best for the students, as well as how we can potentially make a positive impact on our surrounding towns.