CDC Report Shows Suicide Rates On The Rise In U.S.

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By Jennifer Bloodworth for NewsRadio 1020 KDKA

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that suicide rates increased 25 percent across the country in less than two decades.

The news came on the heels of designer Kate Spade’s suicide in her New York City apartment and a day before celebrity chef and mental health advocate Anthony Bourdain took his life in a French hotel.

The CDC report took data from 1999 to 2016 from the National Vital Statistics System for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, analyzing suicide rates for people 10 and older. Half of the U.S. states saw a rise in suicide by more than 30 percent. Nevada was the only state in the union that did not see an increase.  

Montana saw the highest rate of suicide with about 29 suicides for every 100,000 people. Washington, D.C. saw the lowest with seven in 100,000.

Almost 42,000 Americans died by suicide in 2016. Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in America. More than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

The CDC report cites several factors that contribute to suicide. Relationship problems, problematic substance use and crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks are the top three factors. Financial and housing struggles also made the list and officials say veterans are “overrepresented” in the data.  

Psychologist Dr. Alice Applegate tells the KDKA Radio Afternoon News other risk factors can include access to weapons and even age. 

"The age group that has increased the most has been ages 45 to 64. As you have increase in age, you’re going to have an increased risk of suicide."

But youth are suffering too. 

"Our children and adolescents age 10 to 24 show suicide as their second-leading cause of death," Applegate said.

She says there's also an increased risk of copycat suicide following high-profile deaths such as Bourdain and Spade. 

Applegate acknowledges everyone will go through periods of feeling low in life. She encourages people to prepare themselves in times of transition and try to find ways of improving mood in times of struggle.

She also stresses that there are always warning signs of suicide. These can include individuals acting recklessly, sleeping too much, or suddenly withdrawing from loved ones.

The CDC also has suggestions listed in the report to prevent suicide for federal, state and local governments, as well as anyone in the life of someone at risk including teachers, communities and friends. Common signs and symptoms of suicidality are also listed. 

Anyone who needs help can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.