As I wrote in my post earlier this month, September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The month is an important time for us to have the conversations we need about suicide and suicide prevention. In addition to having conversations and sharing stories, it’s also important to share data and statistics that help frame the conversation and spread awareness. Today, I want to share some important statistics in an effort to spread awareness about the growth and prevalence of suicide as a public health issue.
From the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (data from 2021):
- Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States
- In 2021, 48,183 Americans died by suicide
- In 2021, there were an estimated 1.70M suicide attempts
- The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men.
- In 2021, men died by suicide 3.90x more than women.
- On average, there are 132 suicides per day.
- 94% of adults surveyed in the U.S. think suicide can be prevented.
From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Overall, the number of deaths by suicide increased from 2021 to 2022 by 2.6 percent
- In 2021, 12.3 million adults seriously thought about suicide
- 3.5 million adults made a plan
- Suicide rates increased 37% between 2000-2018 and decreased 5% between 2018-2020. However, rates nearly returned to their peak in 2021.
Additionally, the CDC also reported that in a recent survey 22% of high school students said that they had seriously considered suicide within the past year, up from 16% in 2011. Eighteen percent said that they had made a suicide plan, and 10% said they attempted suicide at least once, compared with 13% and 8%, respectively, 10 years earlier. All demographic groups across race, ethnicity, and sex experienced increases in suicide risk since 2011.
From the Trevor Project:
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24 — and LGBTQ+ youth are at significantly increased risk.
- 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
- The Trevor Project’s research has found that they were 2.5 times more likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year (33%) compared to their LGBTQ peers (14%).
From the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-14 and the 3rd leading cause of death among those aged 15-24 in the U.S.
- 46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition
- 90% of people who die by suicide may have experienced symptoms of a mental health condition, according to interviews with family, friends and medical professionals (also known as psychological autopsy)
These numbers paint a pretty clear picture of what suicide and suicide prevention look like in the United States. In order to have a discussion around suicide, it’s imperative that we know what we’re up against. The data shows that over the past few decades, the numbers have drastically gone up when it comes to suicide. And rather than ignore these numbers and treat them like an anomaly, we should include them in our conversations surrounding mental illness, mental health and suicide.
While I know sharing these statistics might seem pessimistic or disheartening, my goal is to do the opposite. Sharing these statistics like this can help spread awareness and educate people about the prevalence of suicide. Hopefully by sharing information like this, we can improve the way we approach suicide and suicide prevention.