Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

CDC report reveals more than 45,000 Americans took their own lives in 2016

CDC report reveals more than 45,000 Americans took their own lives in 2016

Suicide by asphyxiation or suffocation was the second most common cause of death during that time period. The others are Alzheimer's disease and drug overdoses.

Previous CDC reports have found rate increases of 80 per cent among white, middle aged women since 1999, and of 89 per cent among Native Americans.

Suicide has become the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and is one of three leading causes that are on the rise, the CDC said.

Twenty-five states saw percentage rate increases of more than 30 percent over the 17 years. While mental health is often a factor, the CDC cautioned that there is no single reason for the almost 30 percent nationwide increase between 1999 and 2016, pointing to the finding that approximately half of those who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

Effective strategies, she said, included teaching coping and problem-solving skills for those at risk, establishing more social "connectedness", as well as safe storage of pills and guns. "So, when you put those things together, it can be hard to find help even when you want it", Trisha Kajimura, Mental Health America of Hawai'i Executive Director, said. The most common method, regardless of whether a mental health disorder had been diagnosed, was firearms.

The CDC found that men accounted for three-quarters of all suicides, and women one-quarter. But researchers can not say what percentage of those had severe pain as their main problem.

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The data also laid bare a 42 percent growth in emergency hospital visits for self-harm, which were the main risk factor for suicides between 2001 and 2016.

Suicide researchers already know a lot of the information in this new report, says Gebbia, "but the public doesn't". It found that 54 percent of suicide victims did not have a known mental health condition.

It's a myth that talking about suicide might plant the idea in a person's mind, and experts say it's fine to ask someone a question like, "Are you having thoughts of suicide?"

"When someone is feeling acutely suicidal and they have access to a firearm, that's a risky place to be", Summers said.

Recommendations include comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention, which requires coordination from every sector of society from the government to community organizations.

"Suicide can happen to anybody", Schuchat said, stressing that it's important to reach out when family and loves ones are dealing with life stresses like losing a job, ending a romantic relationship, or struggling with money.

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Because it relies on Congress for funding, the CDC may have good reason not to emphasize the unique role of firearms in US suicide rates.

In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Dr. Schuchat and Deborah Stone, the lead author of the C.D.C. analysis, stressed that other factors were critical to preventing suicide.

The rates of suicide for all states and the District of Columbia were calculated using data from the National Vital Statistics System.

Ask someone you're anxious about if they're thinking about suicide.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.

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