In half of all states, suicide rates increased by 30% or more. While mental health is often a factor, the CDC cautioned that there is no single reason for the almost 30 percent nationwide increase between 1999 and 2016, pointing to the finding that approximately half of those who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. "These findings are disturbing".
"Between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased among all age groups younger than 75 years", said Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director of the CDC, who led a media briefing on the topic Thursday. Suicide is now the tenth leading cause of death in the country, and one of only three on the rise, in addition to Alzheimer's and drug overdoses. The least-populated counties had the highest rates of suicide deaths in 2016, according to the Kansas Health Institute.
"Any change in behavior patterns, withdrawing, sadness, irritability, anger, and losing their temper more quickly - those would all be indicators that possibly that person's mental health is deteriorating", says Dr. Christine Moutier of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A 2017 study in the journal Social Science and Medicine showed evidence that a rise in the foreclosure rate during that concussive downturn was associated with an overall, though marginal, increase in suicide rates.
Guns were used in about half of all suicides, according to the "Vital Signs" report, followed by hanging and then poisoning and overdoses. "From individuals and communities to employers and healthcare professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse this troubling rise in suicide".
The CDC report notes many factors contribute to suicide with the most common being relationship problems, crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks, problematic substance use, physical health problem, and job or financial problem.
CDC officials noted numerous factors may prompt someone to commit suicide, not just mental health issues. Percentage increases over this time ranged from just under 6 percent in DE to over 57 percent in North Dakota.
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Suicides increased in every state except Nevada, which already had a very high suicide rate in 1999.
The report said people without known mental health problems were more likely to die by firearms than those with known mental health problems.
"In addition to making sure Missouri's farmers and ranchers have a strong safety net and access to trade, we need to ensure they have access to the mental health resources that are often lacking in rural areas", McCaskill said in a statement.
To be fair, the CDC does issue a mild recommendation regarding guns in its press release announcing the study: "Reduce access to lethal means - such as medications and firearms - among people at risk of suicide". You can find them here. Keep them safe, and possibly remove items that can harm them. That indicates a large portion weren't diagnosed, "which suggests to me that they're not getting the help they need", he said. "They're in a lot of psychic pain and they want to feel better and move past that pain".
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to talk anonymously with a counselor: 800-273-TALK (8255). However, teens who aren't likely to reach out could be internalizing what they see.