Wellness and Mental Health

Suicide Statistics: Facts & Mental Health in the U.S.

Uncover complex challenges surrounding mental well-being and the pressing issue of suicide in America, including prevention, demographics, and impact on vulnerable groups.
In This Post:

Suicide is a major public health problem and one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Even though suicide is a global phenomenon, due to the stigma associated, as well as it being illegal in some places, the numbers are likely underestimated and underreported.  

Raising awareness, understanding the risk factors, and knowing the facts is the first step to ending the stigma around suicide and suicide prevention.

Suicide Prevention

  • The best suicide prevention is early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of depression and any other mental health conditions. (The Overnight, 2020) 
  • 93% of participants in a research felt that prevention in suicide is possible sometimes. (The Harris Poll, 2020) 
  • 78% of participants stated they want to learn how to help someone who may be suicidal. (The Harris Poll, 2020) 
  • Suicide prevention is possible if people are given better access to mental health care, the public is educated on suicide prevention, and by educating first responders. (The Harris Poll, 2020) 
  • Some people have developed coping mechanisms due to the impact COVID-19 has had on mental health by learning a new hobby, meditating, and staying in touch virtually. (The Harris Poll, 2020) 
  • “Take 5” is a suicide awareness program that shares five steps that people can do in five minutes. (Take5tosavelives, 2023): 
    • Learn the warning signs of suicide
    • Know how to help someone that is struggling
    • Practice self-care and wellness
    • Reach out and ask for help 
    • Spread the word by pledging to share the “Take 5” with five other people

Worldwide Data

  • Across the world, there are twice as many deaths by suicide than to homicide (Our World in Data, 2022) 
  • Globally there are more deaths to suicide than to malaria, breast cancer, or war and homicide (WHO, 2019) 

Suicide Rates

  • Suicide rates increased 36% between 2000 to 2021. (CDC, 2021) 
  • The highest suicide rates are among Caucasian, American Indians, and Alaska Natives. (HHS, 2021)
  • Recently, suicide rates among adults between the ages of 25 and 44 have surpassed the suicide rates of the elderly ages 65 and above. (CDC, 2020) 
  • Rates for female suicides are highest among those aged 45-54 (9 suicide deaths per 100,000). (National Institute of Mental Health, 2022) 
suicide statistics

Suicide by Age

Elderly People Suicide Rates

  • Suicides follow a specific pattern: the older the age group, the higher the death rate. (GHD, 2019) 
  • Among men of all races, men aged above 65 are at greatest risk of death by suicide (27.67 suicide deaths in 100,000). (CDC, 2020) 
  • The highest increase in suicide numbers is in males aged 50+ (30 suicide deaths per 100,000). (NIMH, 2022)
  • The second-highest rate of suicide is among the elderly aged 85 years and older (22.4 suicide deaths per 100,000). (CDC, 2021)

Young People Suicide Rates

  • For college students, suicide is the second-highest cause of death. (Tandfonline, 2010) 
  • One study found that 11.1% of college students reported having suicide ideation, meaning they considered, or are planning suicide. (Wiley, 2007) 
  • A common motivator for suicide in college students is stress, issues at home, or depression (Stress, 2018) 
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experiences a psychological disorder every year (NAMI, 2023) 
  • 1 out of 6 students (grades 9-12) nationwide seriously considered suicide in the past year (CDC, 2015) 
  • The prevalence of serious suicidal thoughts was the highest among young adults aged 18-25 (11.8%) (National Institute of Mental Health, 2022)

Male & Female Suicide Rates

  • Men are 3.5 times more likely to have a fatal outcome for every suicide attempt. (Suicidology, 2019) 
  • White males accounted for 69.68% of suicide deaths in 2020. (AFSP, 2020) 
  • Male suicide deaths represent 79% of all United States suicides (CDC, 2022) 
  • Research suggests that women experience depression at roughly two times the rate of men (Mayo Clinic, 2019) 
  • Male-to-female suicide rates show that there are three female suicide attempts for every male suicide attempt (Suicidology, 2019)

Gender & Sexual Identity

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth are almost five times more likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth. (CDC, 2015) 
  • Medically serious suicide attempts are four times more likely among LGBTQ youth than any other young people. (PubMed, 2015)
  • 40% of transgender adults reported they have attempted suicide before, with 92% of them attempting suicide before the age of 25. (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2015)

Suicide Deaths by the Method

  • Poisoning is the most common method of suicide for females (CDC, 2018) 
  • Firearms accounted for 50.4% or 23,941 suicide deaths in 2019 in the US. (Suicidology, 2019) 
  • The second most common method of suicide death is suffocation (including hangings) which accounts for 28.55% of suicide deaths. (AFSP, 2020) 
  • Approximately half of all suicide deaths are committed by using a firearm, accounting for two-thirds of all firearm deaths. (AFSP, 2020) 

Warning Signs

  • Seasonal variations in suicide numbers have been observed, with spring and summer peaks in the number of suicide deaths, contrary to the belief that suicide numbers rise during the winter months. (BMC, 2009) 
  • Alcohol abuse is strongly linked to death by suicide, with figures showing that alcohol consumption was involved in a third of the suicide deaths. (CDC, 2007) 
  • Most suicides are related to a mental health condition, with depression, substance use disorders, and psychosis being the most common risk factors (NCBI, 2018) 
  • Eight out of ten people considering suicide give off some warning signs of their intentions. (MHA, 2022)
  • Individuals who talk about suicide, threaten suicide or call suicide crisis numbers are 30 times more likely than average to kill themselve. (Mhanational, 2022) 

Mental Health

  • Less than half of the people (44.8%) experiencing an episode of major depression received treatment. (NAMI, 2023) 
  • One research showed that 60% of the participants self-reported a mental health condition, most commonly stated were anxiety (37%) and depression (35%). (The Harris Poll, 2020) 
  • Recent data states that 90% of people who died by suicide suffered from mental health disorders at the time of their death.(NCBI, 2018)
  • 58% of adults stated they are comfortable talking about mental health publicly and 49% are comfortable talking openly about suicide in public. (The Harris Poll, 2020) 
  • 11.9% of people with serious psychological health illnesses had no insurance coverage in 2019. (SAMHSA, 2019) 

Suicide Data & Statistics

  • In 2019, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. (NIMH, 2022)
  • Suicide was responsible for 47,500 deaths in 2019. (NIMH, 2022)
  • Data shows that about 51% of people know at least one person who has passed away by suicide. (Science Direct, 2017)
  • Research showed that 35% of those bereaved people experienced moderate to extreme emotional distress from those losses. (Science Direct, 2017) 
  • Every day, there are approximately 130 suicide deaths. (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 2020) 
  • There is one suicide attempt every 26.6 seconds. (Suicidology, 2019) 
  • An estimated quarter-million (285,000) people become suicide survivors every year. (Suicidology.org, 2019) 
suicide statistics

Vulnerable Groups

  • 32% of patients with chronic pain reported suicide ideation to some degree. (Clinicalpainadvisor, 2017) 
  • People with ADHD are 3-5 times more likely to complete suicide. (Russellbarkley, 2019) 
  • More people die from suicide than from wars, natural disasters combined. (Voa News, 2014) 
  • There are 1.5 times more suicides for Veterans than non-Veteran people over the age of 18. (AFSP, 2020) 
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for people held in local jails. (BJS, 2016) 

Depression

The U.S. has one of the highest suicide deaths among wealthy nations.   

Although there is no single approach that is standard for people in crisis, relative ease of access to proper mental health care and clinical intervention are instrumental as first steps to preventing the rise of suicide rates.

Written by shortlister editorial team

Behavioral Health Access & Treatment

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