U.S. Value: United States: 13.4
Healthiest State: District of Columbia: 8.2
Least-healthy State: Montana: 24.3
Definition: Age-adjusted number of deaths due to intentional self-harm per 100,000 population
Data Source & Year(s): CDC, National Vital Statistics System
Suggested Citation: America’s Health Rankings analysis of CDC, National Vital Statistics System, United Health Foundation, AmericasHealthRankings.org, Accessed.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Suicide is a public health issue that affects people of all ages, races and ethnicities. There were more than 44,190 deaths by suicide in 2015, making it the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth aged 10 to 14 and the second, fourth and fifth leading cause of death for adults aged 15 to 44, 35 to 44 and 45 to 54, respectively. There are approximately 2.5 times as many deaths from suicide yearly than from homicide. Firearms cause nearly half of all suicides. For each successful suicide there are roughly 25 attempts with many attempts leading to hospitalization.
Suicide costs society an estimated $56.9 billion per year in medical and work loss costs, with the average suicide costing nearly $1,300,000.
WHO IS AFFECTED?
Health factors such as having a mental health disorder and/or a substance use disorder are the most significant risk factors for suicidal behaviors. Environmental factors such as stressful life events, prolonged stress factors and access to lethal means like firearms or drugs also increase risk of suicide. Previous suicide attempts and family history of suicide are additional risk factors.
Based on our analysis of 2015 National Vital Statistics System data for the 2017 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report, the age-adjusted national suicide rate is 13.7 per 100,000 population. Populations that experience disparities in suicide rates include:
- Middle-aged adults: The highest suicide rate in 2015 was among adults aged 45 to 64 at 19.6 per 100,000 population. Adults aged 85 and older had the second highest rate at 19.4 per 100,000.
- Various racial and ethnic groups: While middle-aged white men consistently have the highest rate of suicide, American Indian/Alaskan Natives have the second highest suicide rate in the United States. Suicide rates are higher among American Indian/Alaskan Native males aged 18 to 24 than any other racial or ethnic subgroup of this same age at 34.3 per 100,000 population, including white males at 20.4 per 100,000 population.
- Men: More women than men have suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide but men are more likely to die by suicide. Across all age groups, white males account for seven out of 10 suicides.
- Veterans: According to the the latest national report on suicide prevention, suicide among veterans and active service members is a matter of national concern.
- Those living in rural areas: suicide rates are higher in rural communities compared with urban areas.
Suicide may be prevented through strategies that empower individuals, families and communities, including:
- Improving clinical and community preventive services
- Enhancing treatment and support service
- Bolstering surveillance, research, and evaluation of existing programs
Evidence from ecologic- and individual-level studies over the past two decades show a strong association between the presence of a firearm in the home and an increased risk of suicide for the gun owner and the gun owner’s spouse and children. Recommendations for families worried about a family member include reducing access to firearms, lethal doses of medications and alcohol in the home.
Resources and effective evidence-based prevention strategies can be found through the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) is available around the clock for support and resources.
Reducing the suicide rate by 10 percent from 11.3 suicides per 100,000 population in 2007 to 10.2 suicides per 100,000 population in 2020, is a Healthy People 2020 leading health indicator. Reducing suicide attempts by adolescents 10 percent, from 1.9 suicide attempts per 100,000 population in 2009 to 1.7 suicide attempts per 100,000 population in 2020, is another Healthy People 2020 objective.