The observation that downward mortality trends have reversed in recent years for some groups of Americans is not new. Economists Ann Case and Angus Deaton helped start the discussion with their 2015 paper on rising mortality among middle-aged, non-Hispanic White Americans, and subsequently gave the phenomenon a resonant name: “deaths of despair.” Research has also identified those without college degrees and rural Americans as especially troubled.
In March, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee summed up the current state of knowledge in a 475-page report on “High and Rising Mortality Rates Among Working-Age Adults.” Advances in overall life expectancy stalled in the U.S. after 2010 even while continuing in other wealthy countries, the committee summed up, attributing this mainly to (1) rising mortality due to external causes such as drugs, alcohol and suicide among those aged 25 through 64 and (2) a slowing in declines in deaths from internal causes, chiefly cardiovascular diseases.
Gun-related deaths from preventable, intentional, and undetermined causes totaled 39,707 in 2019, nearly flat from 39,740 deaths in 2018. Suicides account for 60% of deaths related to firearms, while 36% were homicides, and about 1% were preventable/accidental. Please note that the term gun is used on this page to refer to firearms that can be carried by a person, not to the larger class of weapon.
Since 2014, gun-related assault deaths have increased 31%, but the most recent data show that the upward trend may be over, with less than a 1% increase in 2017, a 4% decrease in 2018, and a partial rebound with a 3% increase in 2019. Suicide deaths involving guns decreased 2.0%, marking the first decrease after 12 consecutive yearly increases.
Though they tend to get less attention than gun-related murders, suicides have long accounted for the majority of U.S. gun deaths. In 2017, six-in-ten gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides (23,854), while 37% were murders (14,542), according to the CDC. The remainder were unintentional (486), involved law enforcement (553) or had undetermined circumstances (338).
Suicide is an increasingly common cause of death in the United States and recent increases in suicide rates disproportionately impact low income individuals. We sought to assess the impact of income support in the form of state earned income tax credit policies on suicide-related behaviors. This state-level study used repeated cross-sectional data from vital records and the National Survey of Drug Use and Health data representative at the state-level. The population included adults who either died by suicide or were selected for in-person NSDUH interviews between 2008 and 2018. Exposure was measured as the generosity of a refundable state earned income tax credit policy measured as a percentage of the federal policy. Outcomes assessed were suicidal ideation, suicidal planning, non-fatal suicide attempt, suicide deaths, and combined fatal and non-fatal suicide attempts. Analyses were performed between April and June 2020. A 10 percentage-point increase in the generosity of state earned income tax credit was associated with lower frequency of non-fatal suicide attempts (prevalence ratio [PR] = 0.96; 95% CI: 0.93–0.99), combined fatal and non-fatal suicide attempts (PR = 0.96; 95% CI: 0.93–0.99), and suicide deaths (PR = 0.99; 95% CI: 0.99–1.00). This translates to 4 fewer suicide attempts per 10,000 population each year. Generous state earned income tax credit policies are associated with reductions in the frequency of most severe suicidal behavior. Income support policies may be one way to reduce suicide attempts and death, especially among low-income adults.
Author(s): Erin R.Morgan, Christopher R. DeCou, Heather D. Hill, Stephen J.Mooney, Frederick P.Rivara, AliRowhani-Rahbar
The number of U.S. suicides fell nearly 6% last year amid the coronavirus pandemic — the largest annual decline in at least four decades, according to preliminary government data.
Death certificates are still coming in and the count could rise. But officials expect a substantial decline will endure, despite worries that COVID-19 could lead to more suicides.
U.S. suicides steadily rose from the early 2000s until 2018, when the national suicide rate hit its highest level since 1941. The rate finally fell slightly in 2019. Experts credited increased mental health screenings and other suicide prevention efforts.
The number fell further last year, to below 45,000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a recent report. It was the lowest number of U.S. suicide deaths since 2015.
You’ll see that among adults, the age range with the most suicides are people age 50-55. That’s due to two things: the number of people in that age range (early Gen X, so tailing off from Boomers) and the rate. For each age group far more males die by suicide than do females.
As many of these experts have noted, the cost of restrictions on youth has gone beyond academics. The CDC found that the proportion of visits to the emergency room by adolescents between ages 12 and 17 that were mental-health-related increased 31% during the span of March to October 2020, compared with the same months in 2019.A study in the March 2021 issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, of people aged 11 to 21 visiting emergency rooms found “significantly higher” rates of “suicidal ideation” during the first half of 2020 (compared to 2019), as well as higher rates of suicide attempts, though the actual number of suicides remained flat.
Even with fall sports canceled, the Hobbs school district, with almost 10,000 students, was still hoping to open the new school year for as much in-person instruction as possible. More than just scholastic considerations were driving this. In late April, six weeks into the spring’s pandemic lockdowns, the community had been stunned by the suicide of an 11-year-old boy, Landon Fuller, an outgoing kid who loved going to school and had, his mother said, struggled with the initial lockdowns.
New Mexico has consistently had one of the highest youth suicide rates in the country — it’s roughly twice the national average — and preliminary state statistics would later show the 2020 rate as unchanged. Nationwide, deaths by suicide in the 10-to-24 age group increased by half between 2007 and 2018, a trend that has been linked to multiple factors, from the growing availability of guns to the spread of smartphones and social media. In New Mexico, mental health experts say, the factors also include high rates of depression on Native American reservations, and rural isolation in general.
The results that we have to date are stark. New first responder data from the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS) shows significant increases in mental distress, overdose rates, and suicides. Mental health and overdose calls to first responders have doubled in 2020 compared to both 2018 and 2019 (Figures 1-2). Suicides have seen an uptick also, but at a lower rate (Figure 3)
In July, a city official told The Trace andthe Sun-Times that the city would be releasing additional funds to address mental health, including several million for the expansion of existing mental health services and $1 million for suicide prevention. The official also said the city would seek proposals for a suicide-prevention plan in late 2020 or early 2021.
In October, the city announced that more than 30 community-based mental health organizations would receive $8 million in annual grants to expand existing services. However, the grants do not fund suicide prevention specifically. Asked about the status of the city’s suicide-prevention efforts, a spokesperson with the Chicago Department of Public Health declined an interview request and said the agency was “finalizing our planning in regards to what we will be funding.”
In Japan, a nation that has long struggled with one of the highest suicide rates in the world, the emotional strain is manifesting itself in a disturbing trend. For the first time in a little over a decade, the number of those who took their own lives last year exceeded the previous year, reversing years of work to curb a stubbornly high number of self-inflicted deaths.
According to the health ministry’s preliminary data, 20,919 people died by suicide in 2020, up 3.7% from 2019, compared with 3,459 coronavirus-related deaths in the same period.
While men in Japan are typically more likely to die by suicide, last year saw the number of women killing themselves grow by 885 to 6,976, while suicides among men fell slightly. Meanwhile, figures for those in their 20s and those age 19 or younger grew by 17% and 14%, respectively, according to a tally by the Nikkei business daily, providing insight into which groups are the most vulnerable.