Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

It shows the growing severity of the issue

It shows the growing severity of the issue

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US and rates have been climbing steadily for years. Most cases, Schuchat says, can't be traced back to one single cause or trigger.

From 1999 to 2016, rates increased in almost all states, ranging from a 6-percent increase in DE to a 57-percent increase in North Dakota.

The greatest increase in suicides was seen in "middle-aged adults", between the ages of 45 and 64. "It's imperative that we continue to make suicide prevention a top priority, by promoting public awareness of the issue, evaluating risk factors and encouraging appropriate treatments and interventions".

The report says that in 27 states, 54 percent of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition - however, they note that individuals may have had mental health problems that were never diagnosed. Information about contributing circumstances for those who died by suicide was obtained via the National Violent Death Reporting System, which is relatively new and in place in only 27 states. Many who died by suicide had been struggling with substance abuse, finances, stable housing or personal relationships.

"We know that suicide is a pretty impulsive act", Kurz said, "so if we can buy a little time, that can save lives". In 1999, then-Surgeon General David Satcher issued a report on the state of mental health in the country and called suicide "a significant public health problem". In 2016, the Palmetto State's suicide rate peaked at 15.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

"Those are the times to really support each other", Schuchat said.

Health officials have attributed Massachusetts' low suicide rate to several factors: having few rural areas, so emergency and other medical services are nearby; a strong behavioral health system; good access to health care services with near-universal insurance coverage; a low rate of gun ownership; and a decade of suicide prevention activities. While the study did not look at the potential reasons why that might be, Schuchat offered a possible explanation. A 2017 study in the journal Social Science and Medicine showed evidence that a rise in the foreclosure rate during that concussive downturn was associated with an overall, though marginal, increase in suicide rates. The biggest increases have been in states like Oklahoma, Montana and Wyoming where gun ownership, drug use and economic hardship are common. Percentage increases over this time ranged from just under 6 percent in DE to over 57 percent in North Dakota.

Only Nevada recorded a decline - of 1 percent - for the overall period, although its rate remained higher than the national average.

Suicide prevention strategiesThe report calls on state and local communities, health care providers, and individuals to take steps to prevent suicide.

Prevention efforts, often focused on mental health, could be broadened to focus on people undergoing life stresses like job losses or divorces, the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a media briefing. It's important to do not forget to remove access to firearms, medications, or any other potential tools they might use to harm themsevles.

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