Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths.1 The overall rate was 11.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people.1 An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.1

  • Suicide was the seventh leading cause of death for males and the fifteenth leading cause of death for females in 2007.1
  • Almost four times as many males as females die by suicide.1

Is suicide common among children and young people?

In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.1 Of every 100,000 young people in each age group, the following number died by suicide:1

  • Children ages 10 to 14 — 0.9 per 100,000
  • Adolescents ages 15 to 19 — 6.9 per 100,000
  • Young adults ages 20 to 24 — 12.7 per 100,000

As in the general population, young people were much more likely to use firearms, suffocation, and poisoning than other methods of suicide, overall. However, while adolescents and young adults were more likely to use firearms than suffocation, children were dramatically more likely to use suffocation.1

There were also gender differences in suicide among young people, as follows:

  • Nearly five times as many males as females ages 15 to 19 died by suicide.1
  • Just under six times as many males as females ages 20 to 24 died by suicide.1

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS): www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars

National Statistics

General

  • Over 34,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year.
  • In 2007 (latest available data), there were 34,598 reported suicide deaths.
  • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years in the United States (28,628 suicides).
  • Currently, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • A person dies by suicide about every 15 minutes in the United States.
  • Every day, approximately 90 Americans take their own life.
  • Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide, but three times as many females as males attempt suicide.
  • There are an estimated 8-25 attempted suicides for every suicide death.

Youth

  • Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among those 5-14 years old.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old.
  • Between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s, the suicide rate among U.S. males aged 15-24 more than tripled (from 6.3 per 100,000 in 1955 to 21.3 in 1977). Among females aged 15-24, the rate more than doubled during this period (from 2.0 to 5.2). The youth suicide rate generally leveled off during the 1980s and early 1990s, and since the mid-1990s has been steadily decreasing.
  • Among young people aged 10-14 years, the rate has doubled in the last two decades.
  • Between 1980-1996, the suicide rate for African-American males aged 15-19 has also doubled.
  • Risk factors for suicide among the young include suicidal thoughts, psychiatric disorders (such as depression, impulsive aggressive behavior, bipolar disorder, certain anxiety disorders), drug and/or alcohol abuse and previous suicide attempts, with the risk increased if there is situational stress and access to firearms.

Resources

Figures from the National Center for Health Statistics for the year 2007.

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