Americans Are Killing Themselves at the Highest Rate in 30 Years

Holding Hands

"Suicide deaths are due to a confluence of factors", Curtin said, saying that a widespread increase in suicide can not be traced to one specific trend.

The report, from the National Center for Health Statistics, an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that during the study period, the age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 24%, from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 people, with the pace of increase greater after 2006.

She says it's heartbreaking to work with these data.

The largest demographic committing suicide among men are ages 75 and over.

"It's quite concerning and quite scary", Marquez said.

One of the authors of the report, Sally Curtin said that the report release is unique in a way as it breaks down the categories of suicides committed by different gender and age groups of people.

Following a slow-but-steady rise in suicides from 2009, the yearly increase in suicide rates accelerated after 2006, as Americans' financial woes mounted and a battering recession settled in. This includes the age group of five to fourteen. What's more, suicide rates are increasing for both men and women in every age group, except for those over 75. "There are so many more attempts and hospitalizations". "We do know that the deaths are the tip of the iceberg for the public health issue".

The suicide rate in the United States continues to climb, and is rising especially sharply among middle-aged white Americans.

Another explanation is the abuse of prescription painkillers and other drugs that has risen over the past decade. "Vulnerable people who have more exposure to suicide do have an elevated risk of dying by suicide themselves".

"It appears this group isn't seeking help but rather turning to self-destructive means of dealing with their despair", Phillips said.

The label says that in people under age 26, the medications can actually increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. In fact, the CDC suggests a shift away from these methods. "The very short answer is we don't know, and frankly I'm not sure anybody knows at this stage in the game", said Joel Dvoskin, a behavioral health and wellness expert at the University of Arizona who was not involved in the study. So can knocking down the stigma of mental illness, which tends to be viewed as a weakness.

But why such a sharp rise among adolescents, particularly girls?

Dvoskin also hopes the research will place more emphasis on suicide prevention in the US. One hypothesis about what's going on with girls is pretty surprising: earlier puberty. The report shows a surge in suicide cases among all groups. However, it was among the less-observed causes of death among persons 65 years and older.

The FDA cautioned at the time that children should still be treated for depression but monitored for any signs of suicidal thoughts. So why do middle aged men find life so hard? "It's good to see it being studied", he said. "Any time you see a big percentage increase like this, you do want to take note of it".

For now, there are still more questions than answers.

"We have more and more effective treatments, but we have to figure out how to bake them into health care systems so they are used more automatically", said Dr. Jane Pearson, chairwoman of the National Institute of Mental Health's Suicide Research Consortium, which oversees the National Institutes of Health funding for suicide prevention research.

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