Information On Suicide

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Robin Williams’ death put a spotlight on suicide.  Here are some statistics and information.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 39,518 suicides were reported in 2011, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.  In that year, someone in the country died by suicide every 13.3 minutes.

There isn’t much good data on “attempted” suicides.  Estimates suggest that approximately 800,000 Americans attempt suicide per year. This number probably underestimates the true magnitude of the issue, but there is no way to tell for sure.

Here are some interesting facts about suicide from Community Counselling Services, Inc. :

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults from age 15-24.  Younger people are more likely to attempt and less likely to complete a suicide than older people.

Increased alcohol and substance use, the increased availability of firearms, and the fact that many mental disorders (such as depression and schizophrenia) begin or worsen during these ages all contribute to these statistics. Suicide victims under the age of 30 are also more likely to have dual diagnoses (a combination of a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder), impulsive and/or aggressive behavior disorders, and legal problems than people over 30 who commit suicide.

Older Caucasian males commit suicide at the highest rate of any population group. Older men are more likely to use lethal methods (e.g., firearms) than older women and people of other ages.

Whites and Native Americans (especially adolescents) have the highest suicide rates of any ethnic group in the US.

Men are more likely to commit suicide than women. Researchers suggest that men suffering from depression are more likely to go unrecognized and untreated than women suffering from depression, in part because men may avoid seeking help (viewing it as a weakness). Men who are depressed are also more likely to have co-occurring alcohol and substance use disorders than women.

Women are more likely than men to attempt suicide. In terms of method, women tend to overdose or to cut their wrists.

Men are more likely than women to use highly lethal methods to commit suicide. Men are more likely than women to use a gun, carbon monoxide, to hang themselves, or to jump from a height to commit suicide. In addition, men who are intoxicated and suicidal are more likely to use a gun than females who are intoxicated and suicidal.

Marital status is associated with suicide risk. Living alone and being single both increase the risk of suicide.

Being a parent, particularly for mothers, appears to decrease the risk of suicide. Even pregnant women have a lower risk of suicide than women of childbearing age who are not pregnant.

The Rocky Mountain and Western states have the highest rates of suicide in the U.S. 

Suicide rates are higher in rural areas. This could be why Rocky Mountain states have highter rates.   Also, people in these areas are more likely to have a gun.

Industrialized countries generally have higher rates of suicide than non-industrialized countries. Among industrialized countries, the U.S. has a moderate rate of suicide.

There may be some suicide rate differences between groups of people employed in certain careers or occupations, but there isn’t enough evidence to know for sure.

Religiosity seems to have a protective effect against suicide.  Research suggests that in the United States, areas with higher percentages of individuals without religious affiliation have correspondingly higher suicide rates.

Economic status has not been found to be a predictor in the simple way that social scientists once thought. Early suicide researchers theorized that poverty was a significant risk factor for suicide. This isn’t entirely wrong, but research has shown that both the lowest-low and the highest-high incomes are more strongly associated with rates of suicide than other income levels. It’s the extremes of either poverty or wealth that are associated with higher suicide rates.

Unemployment is associated with increased rates of suicide.  In addition, alcohol consumption and marital discord can increase with financial difficulties, which can also increase someone’s risk of suicide.


USA Today claims the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline saw the greatest number of calls in its history Monday, the day that Williams’ death was announced. Lifeline calls increased even more on the next day, to double the usual daily volume, or about 7,500 calls.


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