Suicide is a significant public health concern for Americans, but many individuals are unaware of the risk factors for suicidal behavior. The latest U.S. suicide statistics illuminate how age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and identity affect suicide rates. Being aware of these factors can help you identify warning signs of suicidal ideation and know when to seek critical treatment for yourself or someone you care about.
Current Facts About Suicide
Suicide, or the act of intentionally ending one’s own life, has been a leading cause of death in the United States for many years. Rates of suicide have increased at an alarming rate among all populations in the past two decades, and rising rates of depression and anxiety during the pandemic ignited fears that suicide would increase even more. These recent U.S. suicide statistics and facts reveal how rates of suicide and suicidal thoughts have changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Though many individuals assume suicide increased, overall rates of suicide actually dropped in 2019 and 2020. Still, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 46,000 suicides occurred in 2020.
- More data from 2020 reveals that there is still a significant disparity between genders, ethnicities, and age groups.
- Suicide was the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 10-14 and 25-34.
- Suicide rates among people of color increased.
- Emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts among young people aged 12–17 increased dramatically, especially among young women.
- Men died by suicide nearly four times more often than women.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received nearly 2.4 million calls in 2020.
- One suicide death occurs every 11 minutes in the U.S.
- Suicide rates have risen for all races and ethnicities since 2011, but American Indians and Alaska Natives have experienced the most significant increase.
- Adults who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, make plans to commit suicide, and attempt suicide.
- Young people who identify as LGBTQ are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than non-LGBTQ peers.
- 80% of all suicide deaths in the U.S. occur among men and women between 45 and 54 years old.
What Are the Biggest Risk Factors of Suicide?
The latest U.S. suicide statistics demonstrate a significant difference in suicide rates by age, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality. However, a loved one may not necessarily be at risk simply because they fall into a particular category. There are several risk factors for suicide that can exist regardless of identity and status, including:
According to the CDC, several individual risk factors can lead to suicidal ideation or behaviors. These include:
- Mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety
- Previous suicide attempts
- Financial or legal issues
- Social isolation
- Job problems
- Serious or chronic illnesses
- Substance use disorder
Individuals may view suicide as their only way out of a situation they view as hopeless or insurmountable, which is why it is crucial to offer support when someone you care about is going through a stressful situation.
Negative relationships with family members, friends, or acquaintances can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. Individuals who experienced neglect or abuse during childhood may struggle to cope with their trauma and turn to suicide as a coping mechanism. Additionally, bullying, breakups, and sexual trauma can increase suicide risk. Those with family histories of suicide may also be at increased risk of suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Community and Societal Risks
Suicide risk may extend beyond individuals and affect entire communities or cultures. If several suicides occur in one area, other residents may be at higher risk of suicidal behaviors. Regions with insufficient resources, such as mental health treatment facilities or therapists, may also have higher rates of suicide. Certain cultures or groups may stigmatize suicide, view it as an appropriate response to one’s problems, or provide easy access to lethal weapons or medications, putting members at increased risk. If you, a family member, or someone you care about is experiencing one or more of the above individual, relationship, community, or societal risk factors, treatment can help. You should seek immediate medical attention if an individual with suicidal thoughts expresses a desire or plan to act on those thoughts. Are you unsure how to support someone struggling with suicidal thoughts? Follow our guide.
How Can We Combat the Increase in Suicide for At-Risk Groups?
While no single person can improve U.S. suicide statistics alone, you can encourage the people you care about to seek out protective factors. Protective factors are behaviors and resources that can help prevent suicide, which include:
- Frequent contact with trusted mental health professionals
- Readily available access to several forms of mental health treatment
- Strong connections with family members, friends, and supportive groups
- Use of problem-solving and coping skills
Protective factors are especially important for at-risk groups according to recent U.S. suicide statistics, including young people, people of color, and individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+. These individuals can benefit from treatment that addresses their unique risk factors, such as racial trauma or gender dysphoria. One of the most important things you can do for someone experiencing suicidal thoughts is to listen. Many individuals with suicidal thoughts are afraid to reach out due to fear of judgment or stigma, which can increase feelings of alienation from loved ones. If you suspect someone you care about is experiencing suicidal thoughts, express support in a non-judgmental way and encourage them to share their feelings when they are ready.
How PCH Addresses Suicidal Thoughts and Ideation
Suicidal thoughts can be overwhelming and challenging to manage alone. If you or someone you care about needs professional support to address risk factors of suicide and manage suicidal ideation, PCH offers several treatment methods. From cognitive behavioral therapy to trauma-informed yoga, our treatment specialists can help you or your family member find effective coping mechanisms for suicidal thoughts.